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Moose Facts: The North American Moose

Updated on November 15, 2015
Bull Moose
Bull Moose

Moose Photos, Moose Sign and Fun Stuff

The moose is one of the largest animals in North America. Living in the forest and lake regions of the northern United States and up into Canada, moose inhabit woodlands near rivers, streams, ponds and marshes.

The largest member of the deer family, a fully-grown bull moose stands nearly 7 feet tall at the shoulder and can weigh over 1500 pounds.

Herbivores, moose eat a wide variety of plants. Moose are browsers, using their height to their advantage as they reach up into the trees and shrubs in search of leaves and tender twigs. Despite their large size, they move easily through the thick underbrush and deadfall of the northern forests as they forage for food. In areas where logging is prevalent, moose will wonder along the dirt roads, browsing on the young willows and other small trees that sprout up after the loggers have moved on.

Moose are also at home in the water where they feed on marshy and aquatic plants, and they are excellent swimmers. Often seen standing in deep water, moose will reach down under the water to feed on submerged plants. They use the cool waters to escape from the heat of summer, and to escape from biting flies and pesky mosquitoes.

Image: Public Domain (fws.gov)

Shed Moose Antler
Shed Moose Antler

A bull moose is instantly recognizable, and spotting a large bull moose with its huge rack of antlers is an impressive sight and a memorable experience. With a spread of almost 6 feet across, only the bull moose grows a set of antlers. Starting in early spring, the antlers grow quickly throughout the summer under a covering of soft, blood-fill velvet. As fall approaches, the antlers begin to harden and the bulls scrape off the velvet coating to reveal their new bony antlers.

During the autumn rut, the big bulls use their expansive antlers to battle against the other males to gain the favor of the female moose. Often, just the sight of a large bull in his prime and sporting a huge rack of antlers is enough intimidation to ward off lesser males without a fight. During the breeding season, only the superior bulls succeed in attracting cows for mating.

After the fall rut, the heavy antlers are no longer a benefit to the bull moose, and they drop off (shed). After the first shed antler falls to the ground, the bull feels unbalanced and will often rub the remaining antler against trees and brush in an attempt to dislodge it. The shed antler shown in the picture was found hanging from a tree approximately 8 feet above the ground, where the bull may have purposely tried to knock it loose after dropping the first antler shed.

In spite of the number of bull moose roaming in the northern woodlands, finding an antler shed can be difficult and requires a certain level of luck. The high mineral content of the antler provides a source of nutrients for the rodents of the forest; the squirrels, mice and porcupines quickly find and devour the shed antlers. A hungry porcupine likely caused the chew marks on the antler shed in the photo.

Moose Antler Shed: Photo by the Author

Bull Moose
Bull Moose

In The Company Of Moose

In the Company of Moose
In the Company of Moose

In the Company of Moose: The author gives insights into the world of the moose: their habitat and predators, and he shares his stories about the animals that he has studied for many years. The beauty of these creatures, their strange grace and gentle nature, and their personalities are captured in lively text and dramatic full-color photos.

 

Moose Facts: Did You Know?

The moose is the largest member of the deer family. The scientific name for moose is Alces alces.

The word 'moose' is thought to originate from the North American Algonquian Indian word meaning 'twig eater'.

Male moose are called Bulls, and the females are called Cows. A young moose is called a Calf.

Moose are vegetarians. They eat leaves, twigs and marsh plants, and can eat up to 50 pounds of greens every day. They are generally found around ponds and streams, and prefer to eat willows and aspens. In the summer, they eat water lilies and other aquatic vegetation.

Moose have very poor eyesight, but they have excellent hearing and a sharp sense of smell. They can run as fast as 35 miles per hour.

Moose Antler Shed: Photo by the Author

A moose can live up to 20 years, though the average life expectancy is typically less than 10 years of age. Bear, wolves and man are natural enemies of the moose, and insects can also take a toll. Ticks infestations have a dramatic impact on moose populations.

Only the bull moose has antlers. The antlers are shed each winter, and then begin to grow again in the following spring.

The rack of a huge bull moose can grow over six feet across, measured tip to tip, and can weigh up to 50 pounds (or more!). During the breeding season, bull moose use their large antlers in battle against other males for the right to mate.

A fully grown bull can stand 7 feet tall and weigh over 1500 pounds.

The flap of skin hanging beneath the throat of a moose is called the Bell.

Moose are also susceptible to Brainworm, which is transmitted from deer through their droppings. Moose ingest the parasite by eating vegetation tainted by infected deer droppings.

Moose love the water, where they feed on water plants and submerge to escape from swarms of mosquitoes and black flies. Moose are very good swimmers.

Typically a solitary animal, moose are sometimes found in close proximity to one another when feeding. A group of moose is called a herd.

The plural of moose is: moose

Photo Credit: Public Domain Images

Have you Seen A Moose in the Wild?

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Moose: Giants of the Northern Forest

Featureing 80 dramatic photographs of moose in their natural habitat, Moose: Giants of the Northern Forest the author includes his own personal experiences with moose, making this a wonderful, knowledgeable companion for campers, hikers and moose watchers.

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Tell Us About Your Moose Sightings

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Its just been too long since I've seen a moose in the wild, so this will have to do for today, thanks for being here!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I grew up in the north woods of Minnesota and seeing a moose was always a treat, they really tend to stay in the backwoods most of the time. I did get to touch a young cow once that wandered into the yard of a janitor that worked at my grade school. I am a little envious that you have found two moose sheds, excellent information !

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Aced your quiz! Loved the moose facts and learnt a bit about this wonderful critter! :)