Lets talk about Moose

Posted by Darren Raby on

The moose (in North America) or elk (in Eurasia) (Alces alces) is a member of the New World deer subfamily and is the only species in the genus Alces. It is the largest and heaviest extant species in the deer family. Most adult male moose have distinctive broad, palmate ("open-hand shaped") antlers; most other members of the deer family have antlers with a dendritic ("twig-like") configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal forests and temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose's range over time. It has been reintroduced to some of its former habitats. Currently, most moose occur in Canada, Alaska, New England (with Maine having the most of the lower 48 states), New York State, Fennoscandia, the Baltic states, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

Its diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. Predators of moose include wolves, bears, humans, and (rarely) wolverines. Unlike most other deer species, moose do not form herds and are solitary animals, aside from calves who remain with their mother until the cow begins estrus (typically at 18 months after the birth of the calf), at which point the cow chases them away. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.

Here are a few interesting facts about the moose:

1. Bull moose shed their antlers each year.

After a male moose is a year old, he grows antlers that increase in size and weight each year. Then a yearly cycle starts where the antlers begin to grow on bull moose in the spring and continue growing until September, when the velvet that covers the antlers dries and falls off. Moose often rub their antlers on trees which helps the velvet come off. Eventually, sometime between mid-November and March, the antlers will fall off. The purpose of antler shedding is to help moose conserve energy in the cold, scarce winter months.

2. One of the biggest threats they face comes from a snail.

Certain snails carry a parasite called brain worm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis), and these big critters frequently ingest small snails while foraging in warm, shallow water. Brain worms cause neurological damage that can be fatal to moose. Interestingly, all other members of the deer family often carry brain worms, but are unaffected by them.

3. They are huge.

The average weight of a fully grown male (a bull moose) is 1,500 pounds (3/4 of a ton). They’re also

usually 4.6-6.9 feet and 7.9-10.2 feet in length. The moose is the largest species of deer in the world and one of the world's tallest mammals.

4. Like cows, moose have a four-chambered stomach.

Moose are herbivores who survive primarily on bark, shrubs, and a variety of other plant life. To maintain their massive size, they eat about 73 pounds of food a day in the summer and 34 pounds in the winter. Their first stomach chamber breaks down what they consume, then the other three extract the nutrients. The moose will then regurgitate the partially digested food and chew on the cud.