The Mighty Moose

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Bull moose photographed 08/05/2013 at Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake, Colorado.

Found in parts of the United States, Canada, Scandanavia, and Russia, moose (Artiodactyla: Cervidae: Alces alces) are the largest species of deer in the world. Growing to around six feet in height at the shoulder these beasts can weigh almost one ton. Males are easily recognized by their enormous antlers which can span up to six feet. Unlike other deer their antlers are palmate (broad and flat) rather than dendritic (thin and branching).

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Moose cow photographed 08/05/2013 at Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake, Colorado.

Moose feed on a variety of plants including grasses, shrubs, pinecones, mosses, and lichens. They’re strong swimmers and will also feed on aquatic plants in the summer. It’s not uncommon to see them in and around water in warmer months.

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Moose cow and calf photographed 08/05/2013 at Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake, Colorado.

Unlike other deer moose are solitary and don’t form herds. While most deer rely on speed and numbers to evade predators, moose are protected by their sheer size and power.

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Bull moose photographed 08/05/2013 at Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake, Colorado.

These animals do come together in September and October to mate. Males bellow loudly to attract females and they lock antlers with each other to battle for mating rights. Impregnated females give birth to one or two calves in the spring, and the young stay with their mothers until the following mating season.

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Moose cow and calf photographed 08/05/2013 at Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake, Colorado.

In spite of their seemingly peaceful nature, moose are one of the most dangerous mammals in the world. These animals are second only to hippopotamuses in the number of humans they injure each year.  If you ever find yourself near a moose in the wild, don’t be like this guy:

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Ignorant tourist getting too close to a bull moose. Photographed 08/05/2013 at Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake, Colorado.

A National Park Service ranger showed up a minute later to scold this ignorant tourist. Although embarrassing it was probably better than getting trampled by this massive beast.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in National Parks, Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Mighty Moose

  1. beth says:

    Moose are such magnificent animals. We met one 30 years ago on a one lane road in Minnesota’s boundary waters. This massive cow didn’t like the idea of giving up right-of-way and it was dicey to say the least. Glad that I was in a car and that we weren’t in a hurry or given to road-rage. We would have lost.

    What a great way to start the day. Thank you.

    Like

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