Moose are the largest and the tallest mammals of North America’s deer populations. Adults who are fully grown, standing six feet from the ground to shoulder are based in the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe.
They possess long noses, muzzles hanging over their chins and a flap of skin swaying below their throat.
Male moose grow massive antlers up to six feet high from one end to the other.
|Scientific name||Alces alces|
Appearance and behaviour
Moose are very tall, robust, and strong. They stand as high as a fully grown man, at about 6 feet, from hoof to the shoulder length and their bones along with their bodies are large and muscular.
The females are smaller than the males, typically weighing between 800 to 1200 pounds. While the male moose can grow larger, they range from 1200 to 1600 pounds on average.
While moose are considered solitary animals, they live in herds during breeding seasons in the wild. Outside of breeding, they are rated the most isolated and antisocial animals of all, in the wild. Males battle against each other for the right to mate with their herds of females called “harem herds” during the mating season.
Moose’s hair is light brown to dark brown, which makes them effortlessly disguise in their environment. Each fur is long and dense with each being hollow by the moose to aid in warmth.
They have long legs, with the front pair being slightly longer than the back. This makes the moose look sluggish and gangling. In addition, the longer front legs, help them amble over forest debris such as fallen trees and branches.
Just like a horse, the moose head is long but has an enlarged nose and upper lip and their ears, as well as their tail, are short. A humpback appearance caused by large and powerful shoulder muscles adds to their funny-faced appearance. Moose also possess a loose hands skin called a dewlap on their throat.
Tall, broad and flat antlers make the presence of a moose much more distinct from other deer family members. Only males have such antlers, and at maximum development, they reach between four and six feet. These antlers start rising in late spring or early summer, first covered by a fuzzy skin called velvet.
Some tiny blood vessels are in the velvet that supplies the antlers with nutrients to help them grow. By the end of summer, when the antlers stop rising, these blood vessels dry up, and the velvet begins to shed. Moose antlers take on dried bone’s characteristic appearance in early fall, weighing up to 40 pounds, then fall off in the winter.
Moose feeds during the day as they are most active at dawn and dusk. They have an excellent sense of smell, even though they cannot see very well. These giant mammals can hear well, too. They are good swimmers a few weeks after birth and can achieve a swimming speed of up to six miles per hour. Moose also submerge completely and can stay underwater for up to 30 seconds.
Moose are usually gentle and quiet on in their natural habitat. Nonetheless, they can become aggressive if disturbed by other animals or humans. They are highly aggressive mammals and do not hesitate to charge against anyone or anything that threatens their space.
Although moose look sluggish and slow, they can easily outrun humans. In a case where they are being threatened, the moose defends itself by stomping their legs on the attacking animals or human and using their antlers as defence as well.
Moose live in the colder northern areas where there is annual snow covering North America, Europe and Asia. Since moose do not sweat, they do not survive in temperatures above 80 degrees. A lot of body heat during digestion is produced by the foods they eat.
Regions have subspecies, each with particular adaptations to their surroundings. North American moose includes eastern moose of Canada as well as the northeastern U.S, the northwestern moose of central Canada, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Michigan, the Shiras moose of the U.S. and the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and the northwestern Alaskan moose of Canada and the state of Alaska.
Some animal experts believe the moose family to have many subspecies in Europe and Asia. The European moose, Siberian Yakut moose, western Siberian Ussuri moose and eastern Siberian Kolyma moose are among these unofficial subspecies.
Each subspecies of moose vary according to its geography, size, antler characteristics and fur. Body sizes vary as a result of its localized diet and environments with bulls having a weight of about 1300 pounds and up to seven feet tall at the shoulder.
Alaska alongside the eastern Siberia has the largest moose with bulls weighing up to just 770 pounds while Wyoming and Manchuria are home to the smallest moose.
Moose are herbivores feeding on sunrise to sunset. They consume up to 70 pounds of vegetable daily, and their habitat consists of plant-rich settings with feeding shrubs available. Moose also feed on aquatic plants in summer. They wade into the water and even dive underwater to reach these plants. These big mammals love mineral licks.
You will find moose eating fir, yew and other conifers during winter. The moose herds follow a series of trails as they move in order to get through thick blankets of snow for food. These trails create a “moose yard.”
In their diets, Favourite foods include bark, leaves, twigs, pine cones, tree buds, shrub buds, and water lilies. Willow, aspen and balsam fir are also preferred. Their food goes through four stomach chambers as part of digestion as they feed.
The first chamber breakdown the food, and the other three sections extract nutrients. Moose “chew their cud,” like cows. Cud is regurgitated food that they chew on for some time before swallowing.
Chokecherry, European yew and Japanese yew plants are crops that are toxic to these otherwise hearty creatures. Since the plant cells produce cyanide gas, the plants prove lethal to moose.
The moose dies within a few hours of eating these plants. Unfortunately, these trees are planted rampantly in the moose territory such as Alaska.
Moose prefer eating from plants from their head or shoulder level, particularly with up to 40 pounds of antler weight on their heads. They stoop to their front knees, spreading their legs widely apart like a giraffe to access other food levels.
Predator and threat
Bears, wolves, humans and ticks are the largest threats to moose—both brown and black bears, particularly during the calving season, target moose as a food source. One moose provides several meals for these massive predators.
A moose also makes a wolf pack an enticing buffet. Moose can run about 35 miles per hour in order to protect themselves from predators such as bears and wolves. Running and jumping takes a small amount of moose energy, but a lot of energy for their predators.
Moose cannot sprint when deep snow covers the ground. This is where they use another strategy for defence. Hard ground lands with the least possible amount of snow, such as frozen lakes or areas of land where snow has blown away are searched for.
They even back up against forest filled with trees to keep wolves away from their hindquarters. If they have to face off these creatures or packs, they run at them, kicking their legs in a manner that can kill wolves and leave bears dazed.
Another defence mechanism for the moose is going to low-level water bodies (not deep water) where wolves or other predators can’t swim well. Humans hunt moose, but taking one moose down involves several shots. In Siberia, many hunters prefer to be faced against a grizzly bear rather than an angry moose.
Global warming raises infestations of ticks where moose live as tick populations surge in a colder winter. These little parasites can eliminate a moose herd by weakening them through blood loss.
Many moose die annually of anaemia caused by ticks. Many moose leaves patches of hair loss, trying to rub ticks away from their bodies. This broken coat results in hypothermia during winter.
Biologists in New Hampshire have attributed ticks and other pests similar to them with a 40 per cent decrease in the moose population in the past ten years.
Reproduction and life cycle
In early fall, male moose approaches the harem herds of females ready to mate. The females attract males using a heavy fragrance and deep calls. Males challenge each other often for the right to mate with a harem, and such challenges include the use of their antlers to show threat displays.
They can also drive each other with their antlers in a fight. Their fights typically do not get very intense since antlers may get stuck together, leading to both bulls’ death. The dominant moose remains with the herd at the end of these challenges, and the submissive loser of the battle scurries away.
In spring or summer, a female moose gives birth to one baby. Occasionally, a moose can bear twins or even triplets, but there’s just one calf during most deliveries. Soon after birth, the calves stand up and swim well within a few weeks.
Calves are weaned from their mothers at about six months of age. However, they stay with their mother until she has another calf in the subsequent mating season. Moose are very violent to defend their young. In fact, bull moose charge humans or other threats during the mating season and before the birth of their young.
It can be risky for a moose calf to survive in the wild as bears, as well as wolves, enjoy moose meat as part of their diet. About half the calves die before the age of six weeks due to these animal attacks.
A moose calf becomes fully grown within four to six years of age, but they most thrive into old age once they attain their full size. Adult moose have a 95% survival rate and usually live for 15 to 20 years in the wild.
Moose proved to be strong creatures, and this help maintains its high populations. There are about five hundred thousand to one million moose in Canada alone. In the 1900s, in Newfoundland, moose were introduced to the region.
At that time, four moose were introduced to reproduce and now there are over one hundred and fifty thousand moose from the original parents.
Around three hundred thousand moose live in the United States. Of these, two hundred thousand live in Alaska. Moose is also located in Finland, the Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Russia. Their worldwide conservation status is listed as of least concern and is rising in numbers.
- A fully grown male moose weighs between 1200 and 1800 pounds
- Moose are capable of living a life span of 15 to 20 years
- They feed on both land and aquatic plant
- Their hooves serve as snowshoes during harsh winter climates
- They are capable of running 35miles per hour