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Moose Fact File

Alces alces

Weight

500-700kg

(1,100-1,550lbs)

Length

2.4-3m

(7.75-9.75ft)

Lifespan

Wild 16 years

Captive 27 years

Diet

Herbivore

Leaves, Moss, Plants

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The moose is the world's largest species of deer covered by a coat of brown fur. Males feature a large pair of antlers during the breeding season used in battle with other males to gain mating rights.

These animals browse for bark, twigs and leaves. During winter they use their feet to dig aside snow allowing them to access the lichen and moss below.

Found across North America, Europe and Asia debate continues as to whether the Eurasian and North American populations should be considered as two species.

They are threatened by hunting, vehicle strikes, habitat destruction and parasites.

Read on to learn more about these marvellous mammals.

Appearance

Moose are covered with a coating of brownish-grey fur in summer which turns greyer during winter. Their legs feature pale fur.

The legs are long and end with wide hooves helping them to wade through snow or cross snow. These legs also help them to wade through bogs and shallow lakes or allow them to cross fallen trees.

During the summer males being to grow in their large antlers. These are covered by soft skin known as "velvet." This is shed by autumn when the breeding season begins.

Each antler may measure up to 2m (6.5ft) tall with up 20 points on each.

Inside the mouth they lack upper teeth instead grabbing food with the upper lip.

Hanging below the throat is a flap of skin know as the dewlap. This tends to become smaller as the animal grows. This may also be known as the bell.

The moose is the world's largest species of deer. Their body will measure between 2.4 and 3m (7.75 and 9.75ft) long with an average weight of between 500 and 700kg (1,100 and 1,550lbs). At the shoulder they stand 1.4-2.3m (4.5-7.5ft) tall.

American moose tend to be larger than those in Europe.

Males may be up to twice as large as the females.

Diet


Moose are herbivores. They feed on a range of twigs, lichen, moss, bark and aquatic plants.

During winter they will kick away snow to access moss and lichen hidden underneath. They will also chew bark and twigs more often.

They may also gather at road sides in winter when they eat road salt which has run off. This replaces electrolytes which are absent from their diet in winter.

Each day they may eat up to 24kg (53lbs) with more food consumed during summer.

Moose

Range

Moose live across North America, Asia and Europe. Here they can be found in the following countries – Belarus; Canada; China; Croatia; Czechia; Estonia; Finland; Germany; Hungary; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Moldova; Mongolia; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Slovakia; Sweden; Ukraine and the United States.

A population which formerly occurred in Austria is now considered to be extinct. Some from other countries may occasionally migrate through this country though.

They were introduced to New Zealand but this population is now believed to be extinct.

Habitat

Moose make their home in woodland habitats and wetlands.

Logging in Scandinavia has helped to increased their available habitat as it removed natural taiga forest which is replaced with secondary woodland.

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Reproduction

The mating season begins in September and lasts till October during which time males undergo their rut. At the start of the breeding season both the male and female will bellow to attract a mate.

Throughout the rut they will splash urine across the rutting pits which helps to attract females.

During the mating season males will regularly fight to gain mating rights with the females in their area. Both males and females may mate with multiple partners.


After a 240 day gestation period the female will give birth to between one and two calves. At birth the calves are more of a reddish color when compared to the adults.

The mother will give birth in a secluded spot which hides her calf. It is able to walk within two days of birth. Within a week they can swim which provides an escape from predators.


These suckle milk from their mother until weaning at six months old. They may remain with the mother for up to a year.

Sexual maturity is reached at 1 year old.

Behavior

Moose may be active through the day and night. Activity levels peak around dawn and dusk. When the weather is at its warmest they may bathe in the water to cool off.

These animals are mostly considered solitary outside of breeding or when females are raising young.

While moose may form a territory they often do not defend it as they move around during much of the year. Females tend to favor habitats with cover for them to hide their young amongst.

They are considered to have poor eyesight but their smell and hearing work well to compensate for this.

Moose

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the moose include bears, tigers and wolves. These animals primarily target calves with the adult males using their large antlers to defend themselves.

In parts of their range they may be seen as a pest of agriculture and forestry areas.

Humans impact their population through forestry and agriculture which decreases the availability of their preferred forests. Deer can transfer diseases which affect the moose.

Parasites such as ticks can also become a major threat. They will attach in large numbers to a moose potentially causing anemia. In an attempt to rid themselves of the ticks they will rub off patches of fur.

Some hunting occurs. In areas this may be to reduce their impact on forestry while in others it is for sport. They are also commonly impacted by vehicle strikes both on roads and trainlines.

Quick facts

In Europe this species is known as the elk. This name is more commonly applied to the wapiti (Cervus canadensis) in North America.

The moose is listed as the state animal of the US state of Maine.

Debate is ongoing as to whether the North American and Eurasian populations should be considered as separate species.

Moose

Photo Credits

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All Other Images

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References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley

Jackson, T.,2011. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Animals, Birds & Fish of North America. 1st ed. Leicestershire: Lorenz Books

Hundertmark, K. 2016. Alces alces. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T56003281A22157381. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T56003281A22157381.en. Downloaded on 16 June 2021.

Worldanimalfoundation.com. 2021. Moose. [online] Available at: <https://www.worldanimalfoundation.com/advocate/wild-animals/params/post/1297943/moose> [Accessed 19 June 2021].

Torontozoo.com. 2021. Toronto Zoo | Animals. [online] Available at: <https://www.torontozoo.com/animals/American%20Moose> [Accessed 19 June 2021].

Minnesota Zoo. 2021. Moose. [online] Available at: <https://mnzoo.org/blog/animals/moose/> [Accessed 19 June 2021].

Coolantarctica.com. 2021. Moose / Elk Facts and Adaptations – Alces alces. [online] Available at: <https://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/wildlife/Arctic_animals/moose.php> [Accessed 19 June 2021].

Maine.gov. 2021. State Animal – Moose | Maine Secretary of State Kids' Page. [online] Available at: <https://www.maine.gov/sos/kids/about/symbols/animal> [Accessed 19 June 2021].

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