Children are advised to hide under the duvet if they hear sleighbells this Christmas Eve, after it emerged that reindeers appear to have developed a taste for human flesh.
The reindeer's ability to transform from Santa's little helper to ravening maneater was illustrated by the tale of a 57-year-old woman who was subjected to a terrifying two-hour assault from a juvenile male last month.
Pat Cook was walking in the Cromdale Hills near Grantown-on-Spey when the juvenile bull separated himself from the rest of the UK's only reindeer herd and began stalking her.
As she reached the summit of the hill, he pounced, knocking her to the ground.
Cook told The Scotsman: "One of my walking poles was thrown into the air. The reindeer kept trying to stick its antlers into me, but I managed to brace my feet on them."
While screaming for help to no avail, she attempted to beat off the crazed caribou with her other walking pole. Eventually she collapsed in a heap, using her rucksack as a defensive wall to protect her back.
"I grabbed the antlers to try and avoid getting stabbed and it started to bump me along the ground. Eventually, I fell and landed in a heap."
As long as she lay still in the snow she found the reindeer held back. Whenever she moved, he attacked again, leading to a two-hour standoff.
Eventually she made her escape, dashing two miles before reaching the safety of a fence - all the while being bumped by the reindeer. She attempted to distract the mad beast by hurling items of her lunch in the other direction.
The creature has now been taken off the hill, but will be let loose again once he's cast off his antler.
A spokesman for the herd told the Daily Telegraph the attack was completely out of character of the "normally very friendly and quiet" individual. But, he warned, "reindeer can be very unpredictable."
The herd's own site informs us that "(Reindeer) have similar traits to humans and there are words in the Sami language for them such as lazy, happy and grumpy."
The herd has been in Scotland since 1952, but there is no suggestion they now share similar traits to the local humans. ®
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