Facts about moose

We found 19 facts about moose

Alces alces

The moose, known in Eurasia as elk, is the largest and heaviest living mammal from the Cervidae family (deer) and one of the largest land mammals in the northern hemisphere.

It typically inhabits boreal forests and temperate to subarctic deciduous and mixed forests in the northern hemisphere. Human activity has caused the moose's range to decrease over time. It has been reintroduced to some of its former habitats and its population is increasing.

Currently, most moose occur in Canada, Alaska, New England, the Baltic countries (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia), Finland, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

The moose is the national animal of Sweden.

Moose (Alces) is a genus of mammal from the deer family (Cervidae).

The deer family, also called hoofed ruminant mammals, includes animals with bony, full antlers. Antlers are a bony formation that grows from the frontal bone of the cerebrum (a paired process) on the head of male deer (the exception is the reindeer, in which females also grow antlers). Antlers are shed for the winter and regrown every year and act as a weapon when bulls (male deer) are in need to defend themselves and fight for females during the mating season.

Representatives of deer include tundra reindeer, red deer, roe deer, Eurasian moose, European fallow deer, sika deer, white-tailed deer, and southern red muntjac.

Deer live in forests, forest-steppes, swampy areas and tundra on all continents except Australia (the species found there have been introduced).

They live both on the plains and in the mountains.

All deer species are herbivorous.

They usually live in herds; males of some species, usually older ones, choose a solitary lifestyle.

Moose live in the wild in Europe, Asia and North America.

Their largest concentrations occur on the Scandinavian Peninsula, forest areas of Siberia, Canada, and Alaska. In Poland, it is found in the Masurian Lake District, the Masovian Lowland, Podlasie and the Białowieża Forest, and above all in the Kampinos Forest (Kampinoski National Park has an image of a moose in its logo).

Single, wandering individuals can be found throughout the country.

The genus Alces (moose) includes two species: the Eurasian moose (Alces alces) and the American moose (Alces americanus).

The Eurasian moose is the largest living species of hoofed mammal, characterized by impressive antlers and exceptionally long limbs.

The moose found in Poland is a subspecies of A. a. alces (European moose). It is the largest game animal living in Poland.

American moose’ antlers are larger and they are the second-largest mammal in North America (in terms of body mass they fall short of the American buffalo).

The oldest description of a moose in European literature does not come from northern areas, but from the Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar.

European drawings and cave paintings indicate that moose were hunted already in the Stone Age. Some of the earliest hunts for these animals took place in northern Europe, as evidenced by excavations in Alby (Sweden), where in wooden huts dating back to around 6000 years ago years BC researchers found elk antlers. Numerous remains of elaborate trap pits from 4000 years ago have also been found in Scandinavia.

The moose is one of the largest land mammals in the Northern Hemisphere.

Its body length is 2.4-3.1 m (the male is larger than the female). The height at the withers is 1.5-2.34 m, and the body weight of the male (bull) can range from 540 to 740 kg, the female is shorter and lighter, reaching a weight of about 400 kg. The largest recorded individual, found in 1897, measured 2.34 m, weighed 825 kg, and its antlers spanned 199 cm.

The largest is the Alaskan gigas (Alces alces gigas) subspecies, which can reach a height of up to 2.3 m and weigh up to 1.1 tons.

It is a cold-loving animal.

Temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius are not a problem for it, but above +10 degrees Celsius, it begins to experience heat stress and cools in the water, where it can stay for up to several hours. It swims and dives very well and can stay underwater for up to 50 seconds.

The moose's head is large and elongated, ending with a wide muzzle.

Its upper lip is wide, elongated, mobile, and fleshy - it serves as a gripper. The sloping nostrils point downwards. The eyes are small (the moose has poor vision), it recognizes changes in light intensity well (dawn and dusk), and the ears are up to 26 cm long and have pointed tips. The moose's neck is short and massive, allowing it to rotate its head within a wide range.

Hanging under the head on the neck is a fatty growth with long black hair. There is a visible hump on the back near the withers.

The moose's legs are very long and strong. They end with powerful, widely extendable hooves that make it easier for the animal to walk on muddy terrain, wetlands, and snow without collapsing.

Moose have impressive antlers in the shape of wide shovels or stalks in a horizontal arrangement.

Males develop shovels around the age of 5, although some individuals do not develop them. Males with shovels are shovelers, and those without shovels are moose bearers (this form is more common in Polish moose). Well-developed antlers can reach up to 1.2 m in length with a span of 2 m and a weight of up to 20 kg.

Moose shed their antlers after the mating season, older ones in November, and younger ones in December and January.

Moose move slowly and clumsily, usually at a walking pace (they raise both limbs on one side of the body at the same time, like a horse at a trot).

They never gallop, they can trot at a speed of 30 km/h, and over short distances at 60 km/h.

Moose are most active in the early morning and evening, although they feed during the day and at night.

It does not exhibit territorial behavior and needs 10-15 km2 of space to live. It travels long distances in search of food. During winter migrations, moving from north to south, moose cover up to 200 km or more.

The mating season of moose is called the rutting.

A female entering estrus calls the male with a tearful, nasal roar. A male looking for a female does not waste time on feeding and can lose up to 1/5 of his body weight during the estrus period. Estrus lasts about 4 weeks, from August to October in Eurasia and from September to November in North America.

Males compete for a female, although fights between bulls occur much less frequently than in other deer and are less spectacular. The bulls line up facing each other, gain momentum with their heads down, and then clash with their antlers. The winner is the one who manages to push the opponent further.

The moose mating season lasts from September to November.

Females become sexually mature at the age of 2, and males at the age of 3. Pregnancy lasts 242-264 days, and 1-3 young calves are born. The calves are born red-brown, without spots. They are about 80 cm long and the same height. They can follow their mother just three days after birth. Feeding the young can last until the next heat cycle, but they also eat solid food from the age of three months.

 Half of the babies born do not survive the first two months and those that remain stay with their mother until the next year.

Moose are herbivorous animals.

They forage and can eat many types of plants and fruits. The average adult needs to consume 9,770 kcal per day to maintain their weight. Much of the moose's energy comes from green plants, grasses, sedges, fresh willow, and birch shoots. These plants have a low sodium content, which is why moose willingly feed on aquatic plants (lilies, pondweed) and marsh plants that contain more sodium. Moose often enter the road in winter to lick the salt used to sprinkle the roads. The moose's diet depends on their location, but they seem to prefer new growth from high-sugar deciduous trees such as white birch, quaking aspen, and striped maple.

A typical 360 kg moose can eat up to 32 kg of food per day.

Moose do not have upper front teeth.

However, they have eight sharp incisors in their lower jaw. They also have a hard, rough tongue, mouth, and gums that help them eat woody food. Moose have six pairs of large, flat molars and six pairs of premolars in front of them to grind food.

Moose are not grazing animals.

They, like giraffes, carefully choose food with less fiber and a higher concentration of nutrients. Unlike most ungulates, and domesticated ruminants, moose do not digest hay, and feeding hay to moose can be fatal.

The most dangerous natural predator of the moose is the gray wolf, which regulates the population size by eating the weakest individuals.

The moose's enemy is also the brown bear and the Siberian tiger, as well as humans. Since the Stone Age, people have hunted moose for their meat and skins and made tools and ornaments from their antlers. Moose meat is called elk meat. Moose milk contains 10-15% fat and can be used to make cheese.

Moose are easy to tame, which is why attempts have long been made to use these animals, for example, to obtain milk - old drawings show scenes of moose milking. In the 18th century in Sweden, moose were seriously considered as animals replacing horses for postmen.

The Swedes used moose in the army as draft, pack, and riding animals.

Since the 1930s, attempts have been made to domesticate moose, initially to use them in the army (experimental moose farms were established in the USSR) and also in agriculture.

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