Rudolph is a fictional character, but reindeer really do have noses that can appear to be shiny red in cold temperatures. Although one wouldn’t describe them as glowing literally, one might even say they glow (figuratively speaking).
Can Reindeer Actually Have Red Noses That Can Appear to Glow?
Some reindeer have red noses due to a high concentration of blood vessels in their nose that help them stay warm and search for food in the snow. Some might even say they glow (in just the right conditions).
Would Rudolph Have Really Had a Shiny Red Nose?
A 2012 study by BMJ compared the circulation in human noses to reindeer to find out if Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in Robert L. May’s 1939 book (and subsequent lore) really could have had a shiny red nose that appeared to glow.
The study showed that reindeer have a 25% higher concentration of blood vessels than humans in their noses, reaching temperatures as high as 75°F. Since the heat is close to the surface of the reindeer’s nose it could radiate out into the cold air giving a shiny glowing effect (especially on a reindeer with a white or pinkish nose rather than a darker one).