why do reindeer shed velvet

why do reindeer shed velvet

Have you ever wondered why reindeer shed their velvet? Let’s delve into the mystery and unveil the reasons behind this natural process.

What is Velvet?

Velvet is the soft, fuzzy covering that grows on the antlers of reindeer and other cervids. It is made up of skin, hair, blood vessels, and nerves. This velvet provides nutrients and oxygen to the growing antlers.

Antler Growth

Reindeer shed their antlers every year and grow a new set. This process is known as antler growth. During the spring and summer months, the antlers are covered in velvet as they grow rapidly.

Why Do Reindeer Shed Velvet?

As the antlers reach their full size, the velvet becomes unnecessary and starts to itch. To alleviate this discomfort, reindeer rub their antlers against trees and bushes to help strip off the velvet. This shedding process also helps improve blood circulation to the antlers.

What Happens After Shedding?

Once the velvet is completely shed, the antlers harden and become ready for the mating season. Male reindeer use their antlers to spar with each other for dominance and to attract females during this time.


The shedding of velvet is a natural and necessary process for reindeer. It allows for the growth of new antlers and prepares them for the challenges of the mating season. Next time you see a reindeer with velvet antlers, remember the fascinating journey they undergo to shed it and grow new ones.