You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer, and Vixen, and Comet, and Cupid… and now Rupert and Blitzen.
We are giving you the inside scoop on two of Steamboat’s most famous locals. Rupert and Blitzen are reindeer that reside here in the Yampa Valley year round. You may recognize them from their yearly jaunt to the Holiday Festival in Gondola Square.
We caught up with the ranching family that cares for Rupert and Blitzen to find out what life in Steamboat is like for these incredible creatures.
Tell us about Rupert & Blitzen…
Blitzen is 6 and Rupert is 9 and both weigh about 300 pounds. Blitzen is really outgoing while Rupert is a little shyer. They live together in a really large pen that starts behind the house and wraps around to the front of the house. In the summer they have free range of the whole pen and in the winter we’ll create tracks with snowmobiles to allow them to move around more freely.
What do they eat?
They eat a hearty portion of grains and alfalfa every evening. We sprinkle a mineral on their food that acts as a copper supplement and gives them any nutrients their food is missing. They also love graham crackers and willow branches as a special treat.
How did you end up with reindeer on the ranch?
We’ve had reindeer for over 30 years, about 15 in total over the years. The most we have ever had at one time is 7, both male and female. We raise them from 4 weeks old and even younger for the ones that have been born here on the ranch.
At 4 weeks old we pull them away and begin bottle-feeding them lamb’s milk. They are bottle fed every 4 hours and they know when it’s feeding time. They’ll run right up to the back door and as soon as you open the door they run to the kitchen sink where their bottles are.
What do they enjoy doing on the ranch?
By raising them from such a young age we are able to train them about life on the ranch. When we go out hiking or cross-country skiing they’ll follow along with us, they are a lot like dogs in that way. If we are out with them they’ll stick right by us and they enjoy the adventure. The dogs will tag along also and they don’t mind.
Fun facts about reindeer:
Reindeer live to about 12-15 years old.
They lose their antlers every year, usually in January or February, and in the summer they grow about an inch a day to get back to full size!
To meet Rupert and Blitzen face to face be sure to check out The Holiday Festival in Gondola Square on December 17th from 2-5:30pm.