The moose is the largest member of the deer family. A mature bull (a male) can stand as tall as two metres at the shoulder — that’s as tall as some professional basketball players! Smaller moose stand around 1.5 metres at the shoulder.
Moose have big-muscled bodies, but their legs are long and thin. This helps them walk through deep snow in winter and wade in ponds and lakes, where they forage for plants during spring and summer. Most moose also have something that’s called a “bell”—a piece of fur-covered skin about 30 centimetres long that hangs from their throats.
Bull moose have big antlers that often reach spans of 1.5 metres. The antlers begin growing in midsummer and are soft and spongy at the start. By late August or early September, when the antlers are fully developed, they are hard and bony—perfect for jousting as bulls compete for mates.
Moose live in the boreal forest and are found along the margins of lakes, muskegs and streams. They are powerful swimmers, sometimes diving several metres to feed on plants at the bottom of a lake. Swimming also helps moose escape biting bugs, such as mosquitos, and cool off in summer. Despite the moose's large size and broad antlers, it can travel silently through the forest. The moose's eyesight is poor, but they compensate for it with a good sense of smell and hearing.
Fast Facts: Moose
Scientific Name: Alces alces
Average weight: 400 kilograms for a male; 350 kilograms for a female
Average length: 2.4 metres to 3.2 metres
Average lifespan: 15 to 20 years in the wild
The fur-covered pouch of skin that dangles from a moose’s throat is called a “bell.”
Moose have been known to dive up to 5.5 metres or more to feed on plants at the bottoms of lakes.
Moose on the Move
In the early 1900s, a few pairs of moose were brought to the island of Newfoundland. The local population is now quite large.
Did you know?
Young moose become strong swimmers within days of birth.