Moose are the largest members of the deer family.
This species is noted for its wide natural range that covers the northern extremes of North America, Europe and Asia.
As with many members of the deer family, moose tend to flee danger, although they can become aggressive if provoked or during the breeding season.
Physical Characteristics and Appearance
Moose are large animals with long legs and heads.
Some people have described the animal as a poorly designed version of the horse.
The animal’s physical traits evolved from its lifestyle and habitat.
The long legs evolved in order for the moose to wade in ponds while eating aquatic vegetation.
The long face places the eyes above the vegetation while the animal eats.
This allows the moose to spot dangers even while feeding.
These animals are commonly dark in color with medium length hair covering the entire body.
Males develop palmate antlers.
The main part of the antler is solid much like the palm of a hand with fingers extending.
Moose also have large ears which are commonly pointed forward when they are alert.
Interestingly moose look nearly identical no matter where in the world they are encountered.
There are size differences between the subspecies with the Alaska moose, the largest and the Shiras moose, native to the northern Rocky Mountains of North America the smallest.
Diet and Hunting Methods
Moose are herbivores, which means they primarily devour plant materials.
These animals are known to eat both aquatic and land-based plants.
Most of the moose’s diet can be found in areas of forests and marshes.
During the winter moose feed on the remaining leaves and vegetation along with small branches.
This animal’s long legs also allow it to move about in deep snow when it is seeking available food throughout the year.
Habitat and Migration
The mix of woodlands and marshes common to the northern portions of the northern hemisphere are the natural habitat of moose.
The wooded areas provide cover from man and predators while both the woods and marshes provide food.
The largest populations are found in Canada with nearly 1 million animals.
Russia follows with about three-quarters of a million moose.
Both these countries have large tracts of undeveloped northern woodlands.
Social Structure and Communication
Moose generally live their lives alone in a solitary pursuit of food.
Exceptions occur during the fall breeding season when several animals may gather in the same area or even form a small group.
Males will seek multiple females during the season with the largest members of the species in the area most likely to find receptive females.
A single calf is born in the spring of the year.
Twins are sometimes born but only when the nutritional requirements of the female is being met.
Calves are born in May or June depending on the climate of the region and usually occurs when the spring plant growth provides adequate nutrition for the cows.
The calves leave their mothers in the early fall and are on their own during the fall breeding season.
Under normal natural conditions, members of the moose species can live up to 25 years.
Continuing loss of habitat due to various human developments is the greatest danger to the moose populations of the world.
In some cases, areas of northern woodlands is logged for lumber or lost to other forms of development.
This type of encroachment by man is most common on the southern portions of the moose range rather than the more remote northern areas.
Natural predication by wolves in North America still claim some moose but is largely limited to the older and weaker members of the species.
Moose in Siberia are preyed upon by Siberian tigers and sometimes bears.
Moose are also hunted by man for subsistence and sport.
Some Native tribes in northern environments rely on the moose for the bulk of their meat needs.
Sport hunting is commonly limited by regulations to manageable numbers that are considered the excess above base breeding populations.