Moose (Alces alces) are part of the deer family, and are actually the largest of their kind. Their height at the shoulder is 5 to 7 feet, they weigh about 1,800 pounds, and their antlers spread up to 6 feet from end to end. They live in the northern areas of North America, Europe and Asia. As herbivores, they eat shrubs, twigs and pinecones, but they have to browse the higher grasses and shrubs because their height makes it difficult for them to lower their heads.
The water is actually where moose feel most comfortable. They are efficient swimmers that can paddle more than 10 miles at a time and will even submerge themselves completely for up to 30 seconds. By hiding in the water, they also can protect themselves from mosquitoes or other biting insects. They do well on land though too, and can even run up to 35 miles per hour.
Although moose are solitary animals, they obviously find time to mate. Male moose let out a loud bellow to attract female moose during September and October. And some males even engage in battle with their antlers over certain females. After the two moose mate, though, they usually ignore each other. Females birth one or two calves in the spring. The calves are born weighing around 30 pounds, and within five days they have the ability to outrun a human.
Fun Moose Facts
- The word “moose” comes from the Algonquin Indians, native people who lived throughout the northern regions of Canada. They called this animal “mooswa,” which means “twig-eater” or “the animal that strips bark off of trees.”
- Female or “cow” moose can live up to 20 years, while the male or “bull” moose usually lives only 15.
- The upper lip of the moose looks like a bucket and is quite large in proportion to the rest of its face.