Moose, the largest Deer
Scientific Name: Alces alces
The Moose gets the ranking as the largest of deer species out there. There is no question that they are very large animals. If you have ever seen one you already know they can be about 8 feet tall. The weight of them will vary depending on their location as diet plays a role in that. They can be from 1,200 to 1,800 pounds with the males being quite a bit larger than the females.
They are dark brown in color and they seem to get darker as they get older. Areas of darker brown on the lighter coloring can help them to blend into their surroundings easily. They have a nose that features wide nostrils and it droops downward. They also have an interesting patch of skin that hangs down from their chin. The older the Moose is the longer it will grow.
The antlers are something that many people are extremely interested in when it comes to the Moose. They are extremely long and can span up to 6 feet. They can also weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. The thick coat that forms in the winter will keep them very warm. Should they be one that lives in areas that get warm in the summer they will shed that thick coat as the temperatures increase.
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When you look at the body of a Moose you will recognize that it looks more like a horse than other species of deer. They are very bulky animals with stocky legs. However, they can move extremely fast just like other species of deer. Generally they will move very slow and calculated. Yet when they need to that speed has been recorded as fast as 35 miles per hour.
They are able to shift their weight as they move which is why they seem like on snow and on mud. Instead of sinking into these elements in nature they are able to walk on top of them. They have separators between their toes and that is what allows that weight shifting to be possible.
Learning about their ears and their eyes is quite interesting. Each of the ears can move independently. When a Moose hears a sound it may turn one or both of them towards that sound. They can do this without moving any other part of the body. They can do the same thing with their eyes. The only place that they won’t be able to see is behind them.
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We don’t have the full story about the evolution of the Moose. However, we do have some credible facts to rely upon. First, fossils have been found that were very large in Asia. DNA testing shows that they are definitely of the Moose. These remains are much larger than the Moose as we know it today. Second, they were found in Asia.
It is believed that due to a lack of food or other circumstances the Moose moved to find a new place to live. Many of them went from Asia into Alaska. You may be asking how they go there….. During the Ice Age it is very possible that they were able to walk there. Once the Ice Age was over those in the Alaska region were there to stay.
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These are very isolated animals, other than the care of the young the are always living alone. It may be surprising to you since with other species of deer they live in herds. It is both the males and females of this species though that are wondering around in their home range alone to look for food. The females are fine with their area overlapping but not the males. They don’t want to have to share it with anyone else.
The Moose has a smell that is very powerful and that is part of how they mark their territory. The males are more determined to keep others out which is why they smell much stronger than the females.
Some Moose live in the very cold regions out there where it is always cold throughout the year. The Sub Tropics aren’t a place where most animals can live but this one seems to do well there. They also live in areas that have a warm summer but a cold winter. The plains and the woods are areas where they can live as well as the mountains. With the woods though it can’t be too thick or they will have problems with their antlers. Some areas where you will find the Moose living include Canada, Russia, North America, and Europe.
Once you find out that a male Moose can eat up to 10,000 calories on a daily basis, you will understand why they spend so much of the time that they are awake eating. The females have a healthy appetite too but eat about 3,000 calories less per day than the males. Their food sources include willow, sage, twigs, birch, and grass.
What they are actually going to eat though really depends on where they live. In some areas they have fruits that grow during specific seasons. For others though that isn’t a luxury they will have access to.
The males become more territorial than ever when it is time for mating to take place. This is from September through October and they will do all they can to get close to females. They will even cut into the territory of other males which causes battles to take place. With the powerful antlers they have they will do all they can to be victorious. Only the strongest Moose will get to mate.
The bugling sounds of the Moose are remarkable and can be heard for quite a distance. They get louder and louder as the drive a male has to mate intensifies. The females will bugle back and the pair will eventually find each other. If other males are drawn in then battles to mate with her will occur.
A male will continue moving around to find as many females as he can to mate with. At the end of the season he will be quite exhausted. About 8 months after mating has occurred the young will be born. It can be either one or two at a time. The mothers take very good care of the young. Observing them is about the only real information we have about interactions among the Moose other than mating purposes.
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Humans don’t seem to hunt the Moose as often as they do other types of deer. It is because of the size of them that they do serve as a great resource for meat though. They also have antlers that many people would like to collect. Showing off the antlers when deer are killed is part of the bragging rights.
There aren’t too many predators for the Moose to worry about due to their huge size. They aren’t completely out of the picture though because wolves and bears live in the same areas. They will take an opportunity to feed on young that have been left alone or that have wondered too far from the mother. A pack of wolves may try to take down an adult of they are desperate for food.