This horse-sized animal is the largest member of the deer
family with long, dark brown hair and high, long legs. A drooping
growth of hair and skin, called a bell, hangs from the throat.
Their large moving ears act like radar, providing excellent
hearing. A large should hump is formed by the upward projections
from neck vertebrae. Each April, the male (bull) moose grows
a set of antlers which can grow to be 5 feet which he loses
in the winter after rutting season.
An adult moose averages 1000 pounds and stands 6 feet at
the shoulder. Some moose weigh over 1,500 lbs.As North America
's largest wild animal, moose have keen senses of smell and
hearing, but they're also near-sighted. Their front legs are
longer than their hind legs, allowing them to jump over fallen
trees in the forest. Once in the water, moose move easily
and are powerful swimmers. During the winter, moose can easily
navigate through snow that is 3 to 4 feet deep. Moose are
the most comfortable in frigid climates.
Moose are generally solitary animals, although they may band
in small groups of up to a dozen or more during the breeding
season. Both females and males are capable of mating in their
second year. During mating, bulls battle for the female moose,
engaging in antler fights with other bull moose. The covering
on bull moose's antlers called "velvet" is shed prior to breeding
season to expose their large bone racks underneath. The breeding
season or rut runs from mid-September through mid-October.
In the northeast, moose don't form permanent pair bonds. The
bull stays with the cow only long enough to breed, then he
leaves in pursuit of another cow. Bull moose don't feed during
the rut and lose considerable weight. After mating season,
bull moose may be seen together fattening up for the upcoming
After mating, gestation is around 230 days, with most calves
born in the month of May. Cows usually bear one offspring,
although twins are common. Calves have reddish-brown coats
and weigh 25 to 35 pounds at birth. The average life span
of a moose is 5 to 6 years, although some moose can live as
long as 20 years.
Despite their size, moose can run up to speeds of 36 mph.
Moose fall prey to wolves and bears. Studies have shown that
bears can kill up to 75% of newborn moose calves in their
first 8 weeks of life. After 8 weeks, calves are able to outmaneuver
What Moose Eat
Moose feeding habits vary with the seasons. Moose primarily
feed on leaves, twigs and buds of hardwood and softwood trees
and shrubs. A healthy moose will eat 40-60 pounds of vegetation
per day. During the fall, winter and spring, they feed on
the previous summer's growth of aspen, black poplar, willow,
birch, hazel, dogwood and balsam fir. In late spring and early
summer, moose lick natural salt deposits, found in salt springs
or roadside runoff to replenish their mineral reserves used
up during the harsh winters in Maine . In summer, moose feed
on sodium-rich aquatic vegetation. They can submerge for up
to 45 seconds to reach plants beneath the water's surface.
Cows also prefer to keep their calves near water as an escape
route for their calves. Ponds are used by both bull and cow
moose to escape black flies.
Areas that provide large amounts of nutritious vegetation
benefit moose. Forest fires induce significantly more nutritious
re-growth that by forest cut down by chain saw. In the absence
of fire, clear-cuts are the next best alternative for moose.
Large clear cuts (more than 100 acres) don't benefit moose
as much as smaller, dispersed cuts. Islands of uncut softwood
and hardwood with large clear-cuts are used by moose during
the winter. A mixture of upland mature mixed wood, regenerating
clear-cuts or burned areas and wetlands offer good moose habitat.