Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Moose

 

Moose are the largest living member of the deer family. While mostly found in northern United States and Canada, they are also found in Europe. However, in Europe the animal is known as a Eurasian elk. Standing up to seven feet at the shoulders and weighing up to 1800 pounds, they have very few natural predators. Moose are able to run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour and are capable of swimming up to 10 miles without stopping.

Moose range in color from light brown to a very dark brown color. Male moose, known as "bulls," tend to be darker than female moose, or "cows." The color variation is especially noticeable in the facial region. Moose have a long flap of skin beneath their throat called a bell. The definite reason for this feature is unknown, but it is thought that it most likely is used to attract a mate. The bell is more prominent in bulls than cows. Moose are very famous for their large antlers. A mature bull may grow antlers that span 6 feet and weigh up to 70 pounds. The bull's antlers take only about 5 months to fully develop, which makes them one of the fastest growing animal organs. In early December, Bull Moose will shed their antlers, and will immediately start growing new ones.

Moose are solitary animals, but during mating season moose will herd into groups for the purposes of finding mates. Cows will attract bulls with loud moans, while bulls will compete with each other by antler fighting. Breeding season for moose extends from September through October, and in late May or early June cows give birth. Moose will usually give birth to one calf, but it is not uncommon that twins will be born if food is plentiful. The calf is reddish-brown in color and weighs around 25 pounds at birth. They are capable of gaining over two pounds a day while they are nursing. The calves are weaned at five months, but their mother will rear them for up to a year. During this period the cow will defend her calf from any potential threats. Oftentimes, a cow will have to drive off her offspring after a year in order to care for a newborn calf. A bull does not become sexually mature until the age of five, while the cow is ready to breed by the age of 1 ½ years. The average life span of a Moose is about 10 to 15 years. Moose are generally docile towards humans, but may become more aggressive during the mating season of September through October. The name "moose" comes from the Native American word "Moswa," which translates to "twig eater." The moose population in North America is estimated to be fewer than 1.5 million, with 1 million in Canada alone. Up to 200,000 are estimated to live in Alaska.

Natural predators include wolves and bear, of who mainly target the calves. A moose's long legs help it walk through snow and wade through deep water.

The nostrils of a moose are capable of closing when the head is immersed in water.

This northern species exists in the boreal forest region across the Northern Hemisphere. Full of coniferous trees, the climate varies from -65 degrees Fahrenheit (winter months) to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (summer months). Moose do not have a problem spending their winter in the snowy region because they are adapted to it. Moose are herbivores, and eat many different types of plants, fruit, and bark. However, only eating plants and shrubs does not provide adequate amounts of sodium for the moose. Therefore, they eat a lot of aquatic foliage to add sodium in their diet. It is very common to see a moose wading in streams and marshes, with their head in the water, munching on vegetation. Because of their long legs, moose enjoy many high grasses and shrubs, and are able to wade through deep water when feeding. Feeding habits of moose will change with the seasons. In the spring, they tend to be attracted to meadows and fields where nourishment is plentiful. In the summer, moose can be found more in marshes and lakes, filling up on aquatic vegetation. During winter, moose will forage near the edge of forests eating bark and twigs as other vegetation will have dried up. Moose must consume 9770 calories per day to maintain their body weight. A moose will eat up to 70.5 pounds of food a day.

 

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