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Animal Facts: Moose

  • Jun 09, 2019
  • 331 words
  • 2 minutes
As the largest member of the deer family, moose can stand as tall as two metres at the shoulder. (Photo: Victor Pavlicic/ Can Geo Photo Club)
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Large and in charge, the moose is one of Canada’s most iconic mammals that is known for its incredible size, enormous antlers and captivating appearance. 

Image: Chris Brackley
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Fast Facts

Common name: Moose

Scientific name: Alces alces

Type: Mammal

Diet: Herbivore

Group name: Herd

Weight: 200 to 700 kilograms 

Height: 1.4 to 2.1 metres (at shoulder)

COSEWIC Status: No status

Did you know?

Young moose become strong swimmers within days of birth! Moose have been known to dive up to 5.5 metres deep to feed on plants at the bottoms of lakes.

Physical characteristics and behaviour

The moose is the largest member of the deer family. A mature bull (a male moose) can stand as tall as two metres at the shoulder — that’s as tall as some professional basketball players! 

Moose have big-muscled bodies, but their legs are long and thin, which help them walk through deep snow in winter, and wade in ponds and lakes, where they forage for plants during spring and summer. Most moose have something called a “bell”—a piece of fur-covered skin about 30 centimetres long that hangs from their throats.

They are great swimmers; swimming helps moose escape biting bugs, such as mosquitos, and to 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.

Bull moose have big antlers that often span up to 1.5 metres. The antlers begin growing in midsummer and are at first soft and spongy. 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.

Habitat and distribution

Moose live along the margins of lakes, muskegs and streams in nearly every region of Canada, except the Arctic and Vancouver Island. They are especially plentiful in Newfoundland after a few pairs were introduced to the island in the early 1900s. 

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