the largest member
of the deer family


Where the moose lives

Moose live in all parts of Canada and in Alaska in forests and marshy areas. During warmer months the moose is found near lakes and marshes. When winter comes the moose moves to forested areas.


The moose is an funny-looking animal with very long legs, big hooves, a humpback and a very short tail. It has large ears, a wide droopy nose and an overhanging top lip. A long flap of fur-covered skin (called a bell) dangles under the chin.

Photo Credit: Greg Risdahl/USFWS
female (cow) and calf

The adult has a dark brown coat. The young are reddish brown. The males are taller and heavier than the females. The moose can grow to be over 3 metres (8 to 10 ft.) in length and a shoulder height of over 2 metres (5 to 7 ft.). Males can weigh 600 kg. (over 1200 pounds). Because moose are such large animals they have to eat alot of food every day.

Carol Harding, NPS
moose antlers

Males have large wide antlers. A rack of antlers can range from 120 to 150 cm. across (4 to 5 ft.). The Alaskan moose have the largest antlers - more than 2 metres (6 ft.) wide.

Each foot has two large hoofed toes and two smaller toes.

Adaptation and protection

During the winter the moose feeds on berries, twigs and branches. They will eat the bark of trees and paw through the snow to get at the grass and twigs under the snow.

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. Moose will also lie in shallow water to get away from biting insects or to cool off. Their tails are too short to swish the flies away.

As winter approaches moose grow a thicker coat.

The males use the big strong antlers for protection and for fighting other males. A mother will fight to protect her young by kicking with her sharp powerful hooves.

The moose has poor eyesight and relies on a keen sense of smell. It stops and listens often while eating.


Moose eat water plants that grow in lakes and marshes. They will wade in the water up to their shoulders to eat water lilies and weeds. They stick their heads underwater to get at the roots and stems of underwater plants. They also feed on branches and leaves of trees (willow, birch, aspen trees).

USFWS photo


Man hunts the moose. Moose meat is very tasty. Wolves and bears can kill a moose.

In the winter when moose are weak from hunger they are attacked by wolves. Moose cannot escape their enemies if they are in deep snow.

The young (calves)

The female has one or two calves. They are born in the late spring (end of May or early June). They have reddish brown coats. By fall their coats are dark brown like the adults.

a calf
Leroy Anderson, US Fish and Wildlife
larger picture

The young are unable to walk for a few days. By the time they are two weeks old they are able to walk about with the mother and search for food. By fall the calves stop drinking their mother's milk. The calves stay with the mother for about a year - until she is ready to give birth to new calves.

female moose
Steve Canipe, 
larger picture

Other facts
  • 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. (photo - a charging moose)
  • 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.

Jeff Foott/NPS Photo;   
Copyright:Public Domain


information from the Wildlife Fact-File and Canadian Wildlife Service
photo credits:
antlers - Carol Harding, NPS; Denali National Park and Preserve
moose calf - Leroy Anderson, US Fish and Wildlife Service; DLS National Image Library
cow and calf - Greg Risdahl/USFWS Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
female moose - Canipe, Steve. female2.jpg. 9/19/2001. Pics4Learning. 25 May 2002
moose charging - Harrison, Pam. charge.jpg. Summer 2001. Pics4Learning 25 May 2002
two bull moose - Jeff Foott/NPS ; Copyright: Public Domain

updated 2011

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