Monday, November 14, 2011

As Big As a Moose

The moose is the largest member of the deer family and one of the largest land animals in North America. Also native to northern Europe and Asia, the moose is referred to as an elk outside of North America, though it is a distinctly different animal than an American elk.
Standing up to seven feet tall at the shoulders and weighing 600-1600+lbs, moose are second in size only to bison among North American land animals. As with other types of deer, moose eat a large variety of terrestrial and aquatic plant life. The average adult moose needs over 9000 calories of food each day, requiring daily consumption of over 70lbs of plant life to survive.
Unlike other types of deer that live in herds, moose are extremely solitary animals that do not interact outside of mating season. During this time, bull moose may engage in battles with one another for mating rights, using their five foot-wide antlers as offensive weapons. After mating season has concluded, the males will shed their antlers to conserve energy throughout the winter, growing a new set within 4-5 months.
Full-grown moose are too large to have many natural enemies. In Asia, Siberian tigers have been known to hunt them, as well as brown bears. Packs of wolves or coyotes may hunt calves or winter-weakened individuals with some success as well.

Though the moose population has been reduced significantly over the last 200 years, particularly in North America, moose numbers are on the rise due to successful conservation efforts. The current worldwide moose population stands at several million, and they are considered to be an animal of least concern.

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