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Moose Facts

The biggest deer species is the moose. Antlers on males can span six feet from end to end. A moose has a long face and a long muzzle that hangs low to his chin. A bell-shaped flap of skin hangs below the moose’s throat.

It’s a mostly peaceful animal that has a large appetite for food. 

The moose is a fascinating animal, so let’s learn a little more about them.

Moose Facts for Kids

  • A group of Moose is called a Herd
  • Male Moose are called bulls
  • A moose’s lifespan in the wild averages 8 to 12 years
  • A bell is the flap of skin below a moose’s chin
  • They can run up to 35 miles per hour
  • Moose protect themselves by using their antlers

Types of Moose

Alaskan Moose

Alaskan Moose

A male Alaskan moose can grow up to 6 feet tall and weigh 1,600 pounds. They are the largest moose in the world.

The black-brown moose lives throughout Alaska and western Yukon in Canada. Alaska’s population is estimated at around 225,000.

Acorns, willows, and birches provide an important source of food and shelter for Alaska’s moose. 

Although lacking front teeth, their lower jaws have eight sharp incisors. In addition, they have hard tongues, gums, and lips to help them chew.

Eastern Moose

Eastern Moose

The eastern moose ranks third in size, after the western moose and Alaskan moose. On average, males stand about 5.6–6.6 ft tall and weigh 1,398 lb. Females are more than 5.6 ft tall and weigh 600-790 lb on average.

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Facts for Kids

You can find them between the Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Newfoundland, and Ontario. More than 30,000 live in Maine, and the community has expanded southward to Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Eurasian Moose

Eurasian Moose

The Eurasian moose, or elk in Europe, tend to be darker with lighter legs than their North American counterparts. 

Several subspecies of moose have been recognized since the Eurasian Elk was introduced to Europe, including the European elk, the Yakut moose, the Ussuri moose, and the Kolyma moose. 

Over 2 million can be found across northern Europe and Asia, from Siberia to Finland and Norway.

Shiras Moose

Shiras Moose

A subspecies of moose that is the smallest in North America. Over 25,000 live in the Rocky Mountain states and provinces of Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, British Columbia, Alberta.

The largest can grow up to six feet tall and weigh 1,200 pounds.

Their diet consists mainly of woody plants, including willow, poplar, balsam, aspen, and birch. Also, moose eat water plants by wading in lakes and streams.

Northwestern Moose

Standing up to 6 ½  feet high at the shoulder, brownish-black in color, and inhabiting areas east and south of the Alaska moose, they are a medium-sized subspecies.

It is found in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon.

What do Moose look like

In North America, moose are the largest members of the deer family. They can grow as tall as 2.3 m. Their bodies are covered with relatively short dark brown fur.  A bell-like flap of skin sways under the moose’s throat.

Antlers on males can grow up to 2 meters in width, from tip to tip.

After the breeding season ends, their antlers fall off. Male moose grow antlers every year that are larger than the previous year’s “rack.”

Female moose are smaller than males and do not grow antlers.

Where Do Moose Live

Moose are native to northern North America. These are found throughout Alaska, Canada, and parts of the Northeastern United States. They commonly live near rivers, lakes, or ponds that have willows.

Most moose inhabit the northeast and the northeast Cascades in Washington, but they are expanding their range.

What they eat

A Moose is an herbivore. 

Trees, shrubs, and berries provide food for them. It prefers to eat aspens and willows. When it is warm, moose eat water plants, water lilies, pondweed, and horsetails. In winter, moose eat conifers.

Behavior 

They’re active during the day but mostly active at dawn and dusk. Moose love water and swimming and can often be found near streams. 

They run swiftly at speeds over 35 mph on land. It can trot steadily at speeds of 20 mph. The moose is solitary in nature. Two or more adult individuals occasionally feed near the same stream. 

The Calf and mother have a strong social bond.

Reproduction

Each September and October, bull males bellow loudly to attract mates. Normally bulls live alone, but during the mating season, they gather together to fight for dominance. 

Mating is won by the victorious male. Calves are born to female moose in the spring. The calves weigh about 30 lbs. at birth. Growing up with the mother, the young grow quickly.

Moose’s Antlers

Moose Antlers are similar to those on deer. It will spar or fight rivals and use dominant displays of antlers to discourage the competition. Antler growth and size are linked to diet and age.

Antlers grow on the male’s head as cylindrical beams, on either side of the midline of the skull, then split into two. Typically, this fork is double-pronged with two sets of tines on the lower end.

The width of the beam, not the number of tines, denotes their age.

Males shed their antlers after the mating season to retain energy for the winter. Then a new set will regrow in the spring. Antlers can take 3 to 6 months to fully develop, one of the fastest-growing animal organs.

Hair follicles give antler growth a “velvet ” texture.” Antlers are changed color by September as a result of intensive grazing, which necessitates an intensive diet and rubbing.

A young bull may not shed his antlers during the winter. Instead, they are retaining them until next spring.

Birds and rodents will eat the antler because it is a valuable source of protein.

Diet

Moose are herbivores and can consume many types of plants and fruits. Most of a moose’s food is terrestrial vegetation like shrubs and forbs, as well as shoots from trees like willow and birch. 

Because of their low sodium content, they need to eat a high quantity of aquatic plants. A moose’s diet usually consists of aquatic plants, which are low in energy but provide the animal with much of its sodium requirements. 

Adult Moose are drawn to the road in winter to lick the salt used for removing ice and snow. An 800 lb moose can eat 70 lb of food a day.

 Diet preferences for Moses often depend on the location, but they are often drawn to white birch, trembling aspen, and striped maple as they have high sugar content.

Standing on the hind legs, a moose can reach branches up 14.0 ft above the ground, while keeping its head and neck erect. Other foods they like to eat include lilies and pondweed. They are also known to wade into the water to eat aquatic plants. 

Its nose has muscles and fatty pads that prevent water from entering the nose when exposed to water pressure.

Predators

An adult moose has few natural enemies. Female moose and calves can be preyed upon by Siberian tigers and wolves. 

While brown bears sometimes prey on moose, they prefer to take over wolf kills or take young moose instead of adults. Moose calves can often be taken by American black bears and cougars. 

In the wild, wolverines are mostly attracted to moose carcasses and have killed them when they are weakened by extremely harsh winter cold conditions. 

Its only known marine predator is the killer whale. On the west coast of North America, they largely attack moose while swimming between islands.