Alces americanus, moose


Description

Muzzle very broad, produced, covered with hair; except a small, moist naked spot in front of the nostrils. Neck short and thick; hair thick and brittle; throat rather maned in both sexes; hind legs have tuft of hair rather above the middle of the metatarsus; the males have palmate horns. The nose cavity in the skull is very large, reaching behind to a line over the front of the grinders; the intermaxillaries are very long, but do not reach to the nasal. The nasals are very short. The moose is the largest of the American deer, quite equalling a horse in bulk. A fine bull moose in prime condition was black on forelegs, breast, shoulders, flanks, hams, shading into rusty born on withers, back, neck, and head; palest on nose and lips and shaded into white on the belly; the insides of the ears also are whitish, the legs from the knee to the ground are a pale warm gray or Caribou color. The appearance of the animal at a distance is that of a black beast, with brown head and white stockings. The coat fades toward springtime.


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Habits

Unlike most animals the moose lives winter and summer in the same locality - sometimes in a swamp only three miles wide and ten miles long, or, again in a strip of mountainside. The winter yard may cover less than fifty acres; however, the moose is probably the widesst ranger of the non-migratory ruminants.

The antlers, which are shed each year, are not fuly palmated until the third set appears; but, thereafter, unlike those of the elk, they show little indication of the age of their possessor.

Both cows and bulls have the "bell," which is merely a long dewlap of skin, round flat, or forked, hanging down eight or ten inches from the neck or the jaw. An experienced woodsman can readily detect the presence of moose by their "fumet" or dung bells, their sharp cow-like tracks, their trails deliberately taken across bogs, their wallows, their horn scrapings, and their nippings of twigs at great heights. Frequently they chisel the bark of trees at a height of from seven to ten feet, though they never completely girdle a tree.

Even after a bull moose has dropped his horns his forefeet are sufficiently dangerous bayonets to keep off a wolf or a bear. When the snow becomes three or four feet deep, the family makes regular trails from tree to tree; and if frightened away or compelled by hunger to seek other fields, they march in single file, parents at the lead. Jays flutter about their backs all winter, eating parasites from their backs and in turn warning their hosts of danger.

In the spring the bulls meander off alone to grow their horns and the cows retreat to have their calves, one each the first time, afterwards two or even three. Deer hide their fawns for weeks, but the moose calf follows its mother about when only three or four days old.

In the summer the families reassemble and become semi-aquatic, swimming constantly in the ponds. The bull's antlers begin to peel in July and by September they are ready for the annual battles.

The moose is the only deer that is strictly monogamous. So faithful is he in fact that he will not answer to a calling cow other than his mate. Only the eagle excells him in this respect, for death alone can sever its marriage tie.

The enemies of the moose are man, deer-flies, ticks, disease, deep snow, wolves, bears and mountain lions.

Barnes, Claude T. Mammals of Utah, Pgs 10-12, Bulletin of the University of Utah Inland Printing Company, Kaysville, Utah