Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin


Alces americanus


Moose are the largest members of the deer family in North America (adult moose can grow to be 2.3m tall) and are one of the largest mammals in North America. Males (2.5-3.2 m long and 360-600 kg) are larger than female moose (2.4-3.1 m long and 270-400 kg) and have wide antlers which can measure to be two meters wide. Moose antlers are the largest antlers of any mammal in the world and are shed and re-grown annually. Moose have thick fur, providing excellent insulation with long, hollow hairs that can vary from light brown to almost black in coloration. This species are easily recognized by their long legs, long head, long flexible nose and upper lip and a dewlap of skin located at the throat.


Moose can be found throughout the circumpolar boreal forests of North America; throughout Alaska, Canada, northeastern United States and as far south as the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Moose live in forested areas, preferring habitats near streams or ponds where willows grow. They are found in areas of deep snow cover (60-70cm deep).

Feeding Behavior and Diet

This species spends most of its time feeding, consuming 20 kg of food per day. Moose consume twigs, bark, roots and shoots of woody plants (especially willows and aspens). Water plants, water lilies, pondweed, horsetails, bladderworts, and bur-reed are mostly consumed during warm months while conifers, such as the needle-like leaves of the balsam fir are browsed during the winter months.


Breeding occurs in September and October. Males compete for females during the breeding season through violent battles or just by sizing, the larger bull (male moose) receiving the female. Eight months after mating, females produce a single young or twins. Females give birth synchronously during late may and early June. Young are weaned at 5 months but stay with their mother for the first year. Moose reach sexual maturity at about 2 years of age, but full growth is not reached until 4-5 years of age.

Months and Times of Activity

Moose are active throughout the day, peaks of activity occur during dawn and dusk. They generally stay within a given territory of 5-10 square kilometers, but some migrate to favorable sites during the year. Moose are solitary animals, but may be observed in pairs and only gathering in large groups in alpine and tundra habitats during mating season.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    Moose can only survive in cool regions (lower than 27 degrees Celsius) because of their large bodies, inability to sweat and the heat produced by the fermentation in their gut. They cool themselves in the summer by seeking shade or wading in ponds or streams.
•    Moose can run as fast as 35 miles per hour and swim 6 miles per hour.
•    To read legends featuring this animal go to;
•    Children’s book featuring this animal: IF YOU GIVE A MOOSE A MUFFIN by Laura Joffe Numeroff


Dewey, Tanya, Anne Bartalucci, and Bret Weinstein. "Home About Us About Animal Names Teaching Resources Special Collections Glossary Browse Animalia More Information Additional Information

Bartalucci, A. and B. Weinstein 2000. "Alces americanus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at