Given you have been to the wilderness of Canada, North America or Russia, you may have already encountered them. For one, it is nearly impossible to not see their screaming antlers and stern appearance. Not to mention the vivid description of them in media, in cartoons or in documentaries.
Yes, you probably guessed it right, the creature that I am talking about are Moose. This article will focus on basic information about this animal, answering some questions like “what do moose eat?”
What do Moose Look Like?
Although they have an uncanny resemblance to other members of the deer family, these wild animals still has its own distinctive characteristics. They are usually bigger, weighing as much as 1,400 pounds. They also have humped shoulders and large noses which you can easily notice when you see them.
If you come across a moose, you will see a ball of fur covering a flap of skin under their necks, which is commonly called the ‘bell’. interestingly,this trait is also a way to differentiate a male from a female moose. The male moose, or the bulls, have larger bells than than cows, the more proper name for their female counterpart.
The pronounced antlers of male moose too are evident when you see them. The bull’s antlers could even weigh up to 75 pounds. But their antlers look and function differently than the antlers of other members of the deer family. If you would closely study these antlers, they look flatter and bigger in contrast to the antlers of another species of their kind. This is because these flattened antlers (palmate) act as a parabolic reflector which amplifies the sounds that they hear around them. And since they dwell in the wilderness, this trait is advantageous because it alerts them from the predators nearby.
Moose as Runners
It is known that nothing can ever beat leopards in a race, but moose aren’t so bad in running as well. They can run as fast as 35 miles an hour and can even move faster in water. This fact is really mind-blowing considering their skinny legs. However, it was claimed that their thin legs enable them to run faster in spite of their weight.
The Alone but Not Lonely Moose
Moose are fascinating not only because of their physical structures but also because they enjoy being alone. This is not usual for animals in the wild, because almost all of them come in packs or groups to protect themselves from predators and find a safer place to live in.
It is said that the closest and strongest bond created between moose are that of the mother and her calf or the baby moose. Pregnant moose even often isolate themselves just to find a perfect spot to get enough food so she can nourish herself and the baby insider her as well.
However, their alone but not lonely mantra in life temporarily stops when mating season occurs, which usually fall between September and October. They tend to be in close proximity to successfully find a mate. During these times, the bulls and the cows often call to each other. The bulls can produce loud grunting sounds which you can definitely hear if you are within the 500 meter-range. The cows also produce wail-like sounds so the bulls can find them.
Fight or Flight
Antlers help moose to survive in the wild. It is like a sword and an armor to them, glued on top of their heads. Bulls fight smart though, because they tend to assess their enemy. If they think they can beat them, they fight. If they think that the odds are low, they run away.
Often, they do not only fight their predators; they even fight their own kind just to win a girl’s heart. They use their antlers versus each other to warn the other side that the cow is hers.
What do Moose Eat?
So what do moose eat? Moose are herbivores by nature. With this knowledge, we can already conclude that their premolars and molars are more pronounced because they basically gnaw their food. And in this case, this is true because their upper front teeth are missing.
Although they lack maxillary incisors, they compensate this with eight mandibular incisors. This type of dentition is essential to them because this makes it easier to grasp on grasses. They also have hard lips and tongue so they could withstand great masticatory forces brought by gnawing on branches off the tree. Their upper lip may be sensitive, but their lower lip is prehensile, which means that it is really designed for grasping.
As herbivores, they enjoy munching on leaves, branches, grasses and shrubs that they would find. It was also noted that they sometimes eat the leaves of water lilies, pond weeds and fresh plant shoots. We can infer that they readily eat the suitable plants that are present in their habitat upon knowing this.
It is important to emphasize that although moose eat grass, we can’t immediately assume that they are grazers. As a matter of fact, they are browsers, because they select their food. In the previous paragraph, the word ‘suitable’ is used because they do not eat all plants around them. They are on low-fiber diet because that is what their digestive system could accommodate. So, if you are thinking of domesticating a moose or putting them in a zoo, you should be very careful of what you are feeding them. Unlike other ruminants, they are unable to digest hay, so if you feed them this, you might kill them.
Moose as Domesticated Pets
If you look at their adorable faces and fuzzy fur, you might think that it would be nice to have one in your backyard or in your local zoo. However, moose is a high maintenance animal; which means to say they need a place full of trees with healthy flora and fauna to survive. This is the reason why domestication of moose is rare.
The complexity of nature is beyond our knowledge, and the moose is a perfect example for that. How intricate and at the same time wondrous their body is designed is such a fascinating thing to get to know of. They might look really good behind cages, but they sure complete the puzzle of wilderness when they are not on a leash. So, I would suggest that let us all stand back and enjoy studying them from afar. By any means, rare flowers bloom better in their roots and not in vases.