largest member of the deer family in the world, the moose may
stand more than seven feet high at the shoulder and weigh as much
as 1,600 pounds. Every month, the moose typically eats more than
its weight in plants. The largest moose tend to live in the coldest
climates because a larger body holds heat better than a smaller
one. Long legs keep the belly 30 to 40 inches off the ground,
allowing the moose to wade through deep snow, water and grass.
Many adult white-tail deer could stand beneath a moose with room
to spare. These legs also make moose deceptively fast; they have
been clocked at 45 mph.
carry massive flattened antlers. The worlds largest known
moose antlers spanned 77 inches and had 34 points. Bulls use their
antlers as weapons during mating season battles. Sometimes when
two moose lower heads and charge at full speed, their antlers
become entangled and they both starve to death. After mating season
each year, bulls shed their antlers. When the antlers start growing
again, they are soft and velvety. The velvet drops off when the
soft cartilage turns into hard bone.
moose also sports a flap of skin and hair called a dewlap or bell,
which hangs beneath its neck. Evident even in young moose, the
dewlap may be a foot long in bulls. Moose hair, which varies from
nearly black to light brown, is rough and brittle. Tiny air cells
filling each hair provide excellent insulation during brutal winters.
A stiff mane between the shoulders stands on end if something
angers or alarms the moose.
in the northern latitudes of North America, Europe and Asia, moose
can live 15 to 20 years. Before modern game laws and wildlife
preserves, the moose was threatened with extinction.
© 1998 Terry White, Drawing © 1998 Bill Harrah.