Widespread throughout the northern states of North America – including Canada and Alaska, the moose also occurs in Europe and Asia where it is known as the elk. It is the largest of all living deer with the tallest specimens standing as high as 2.3 metres.
With the onset of winter, the moose will move onto higher ground to shelter in mixed forests of birch and pine. The harsh conditions can prevent it finding enough to eat, even though the moose will take sustenance from the trees at this time. In areas where there is plenty of food over the winter, moose may form a small group comprising of a male, a few females and their young. The temporary group combine forces to paw at the snow, exposing grasses and twigs to eat.
A weaken moose runs the risk of being attacked by wolves and other predators. While a healthy moose can defend itself, by the end of winter a starving moose is no match for hungry hunters.
1. During the moose’s breeding season, hunters often imitate the call of a female moose.
2. Julius Caesar how the moose was once widespread in Germany!
3. Male moose have been known to attack railway trains, mistaking the siren for the call of a rival bull
4. A moose can run at speeds of up to 56 km/hour. It is also an excellent swimmer, able to hold it breath underwater for up to a minute and able to sustain a speed of 6 miles per hour (10 km/h).
5. In Siberia, the moose has been domesticated. Not only does it provide meat and milk, it also acts as a ‘work horse’ on farms.
6. The moose has poor vision, but acute senses of smell and hearing.
7. As female moose get older, they are more likely to give birth to twins.
8. The name "moose" comes from the Algonquin Indian term and means "twig eater".
9. Only mature bull moose have antlers, which can be as long as 4 to 5 feet across.
10. It is illegal, and very dangerous, to feed a moose. This is because moose that are used to being fed by humans often become aggressive when they come across a person has no food to offer, and may well attack them.
11. You can identify when a moose might attack if the long hairs on its hump are raised and it's ears laid back. A moose may also lick its lips.
What do moose eat?
During the summer, the moose feeds on vegetation growing in and around water, often wading in up to its shoulders when feeding. It will also eat underwater plants, submerging its head to get at the roots and stems.
When the lakes and marshes are frozen over during the winter, the moose will turn its attention to eating berries, twigs and branches. It will also strip the bark from trees and paw through the snow to get at hidden ground vegetation.
Because of its large size, a moose will need to consume nearly 20kg of food every day in order to survive. Unfortunately, due to the harsh conditions in which the moose has evolved to live in, many end up starving in winter.
A bull will compete for one female at a time, but he mates with a number in turn. Older males drive younger males away, while serious rivals of equal size fight as a test of strength. Males may sustain bad injuries in these contests, and then can become easy prey to wolves and bears.
The female moose – known as a cow – will give birth to one or two young in the late spring, the bull having long since returned to his solitary existence. She will wean the calves when they are five months old, although they will stay with her until she gives birth again the following year. At this point she may force them to leave her, but they will often rejoin her when she and her new young begin to move again. They eventually disperse to establish ranges of their own.
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