These Feet are Made for Walking
Although not elegant, the caribou's feet are beautifully designed. With each step, the caribou's weight spreads onto large, concave hooves. Like 2 sets of snowshoes, these hooves help keep the caribou from sinking into the deep snow. The feet also work like scoops, which the caribou uses to dig for food. When in water, they serve as paddles for swimming. Caribou are even named after their feet! The word "caribou" is believed to come from the Micmac word "xalibu, which means "pawer" or shoveler".
Although caribou are generally silent animals, they make a unique clicking sound, sort of like castanets, when they walk. This sound is due to tendons that roll around a small bone in their foot.But wait, caribou biologists tell us that young caribou are different! Our caribou Expert, Don Russell of the Canadian Wildlife Service in Whitehorse, Yukon shares this about the subject:
One author describes the sound of caribou migration, "Like the timekeeping ticking of a thousand metronomes, the clicking of the caribou's ankle bones counts cadence for the marchers. The mass moves with a single mind, following a route trod by countless generations."