Moose are the largest members of the deer species. They are the tallest mammal in North America. Males have large antlers on their heads that can be up to six feet wide. They can run up to 35 miles per hour for a short distance but usually trot about 20 miles per hour. They are nimble on land but are also good swimmers. They can even stay underwater for 30 seconds. They are very large and when standing are up to seven feet high at the shoulder. They can weigh up to 1,600 pounds! The word “moose” is from the Algonquins. It means “eater of twigs” and “one who strips the bark off of trees.”
Moose have fur that is tan to brown, almost black in some cases, that covers their bodies and heads. Males have black fur on their faces while the females usually have brown. They have long faces and each moose has a flap of skin that hangs under their throat. It is called a bell. Adult males are called bulls and they usually live alone but twice a year they come together and battle other males by banging their antlers together to see who is the best. To attract the females, called cows, the bulls make a loud bellowing sound that can be heard for miles. The winner mates with the female moose and then they go their separate ways. They have heart-shaped hooves that act like snowshoes. Moose are so heavy the hooves are designed to support them in soft snow and in muddy or marshy ground. They have strong senses of smell and hearing but poor eyesight. They have 32 teeth but no upper front teeth.
Moose live where there are higher grasses and shrubs. They are most at home in forests.
They love the cold and they live in the northern region of the northern hemisphere. They can be found in the United States, Canada, and many northern European and Asian countries.
Herbivore. It is difficult for these large mammals to lower their heads to the ground to eat so they like to eat high grass, shrubs and pine cones. They strip bark off trees to eat. They can also use their hooves to dig through the snow to get to moss. When the snow melts, moose often feed on the aquatic plants in lakes and rivers.
The average life span is 15 to 20 years in the wild.
Females give birth to one or two calves each spring. The newborn calves weigh about 30 pounds! By the time they are five days old, calves can outrun a human because they grow so fast. They only stay with their mother until the following mating season. While the adult males have large antlers, the small start of the antlers on young male calves are called “button” antlers. Year-old males have “spikes”.
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