The Canadian Moose is the largest member of the deer family. This funny looking animal owes its popularity largely to its odd appearance: long skinny legs with a humongous body and a cartoon-like head.
The front legs are longer than the back legs. It has a shoulder hump, big ears, a large overhanging upper lip and a short tail. And of course the antlers; bulls grow a massive, only to discard them between November and March.
Canadian Moose live in forests and marshy areas in all parts of Canada and Alaska. During the warmer months, they stay near lakes and marshes. When the temperatures drop they move to forested areas.
You’ll spot moose foraging for twigs and leaves, which is their main diet. They will eat the bark of trees and paw through the snow to get at the grass and twigs under the snow. Canadian Moose also eat water plants that grow in marshes and lakes, like lilies and weeds. They stick their heads underwater to get at the roots and stems of underwater plants. Moose also feed on branches and leaves of trees.
Moose can move fast, even when it is wet and muddy. The two large toes on their hooves spread wide apart to keep the animal from sinking.
They are good swimmers and they like the water. Moose will often lie in shallow water to get away from biting insects or to cool off. Their tails are too short to swish the flies away.
Only bulls have antlers and use them for protection and for fighting other males. A mother will fight to protect her young by kicking with her sharp powerful hooves.
The moose have poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell. You can see them stop often to listens while they are eating.
The man is probably the biggest enemy for a moose. People hunt moose and like the tasty meat. Also, wolves and bears can kill a moose.
During winter when they are weak from hunger and lack of food they are an easy prey for wolves. Moose cannot escape their enemies if they are in deep snow.
The Young Moose (Calves)
The female has one or two calves and they are born in the late spring. Their coats are reddish brown but by fall their coats are dark brown like the adults.
- The male is called a bull, the female is a cow and the young are calves.
- Moose make a strange whistle-like call and grunting noises.
- The moose can be seen eating during the day and night, but they are usually out at dawn and dusk.
- Moose often live alone.
- They try to avoid humans.
- A moose will go crashing through the trees when frightened.
- An angry moose can be very dangerous.
- In September and October, the bulls use their antlers to fight each other to win females. Then in late fall, the bulls’ antlers fall off and new ones grow.
- In Canada, every year people die on the road because of being hit by a moose.
The Moose, a National Symbol
Postcards, T-shirts, hoodies, the moose is present everywhere. Look out for the chocolate moose droppings in souvenir stores.
A Personal Note
It is always a strange experience to come across a moose. I’ve seen them running across fields in a distance. First, I usually think of a horse but quickly noticed the strange shape and then know that it’s a moose. My horses never liked the big creatures. One time we were riding into camp along a small mountain lake and watched a moose going for a swim. The horses freaked out and we had to ride into camp from a different direction to calm them down.