The moose is the largest extant member of the deer family. It’s called an ‘elk’ in Europe; the Americans have an ‘elk’ as well, but it’s a different animal that looks like a Red Deer. Moose strip hardwood trees with their drooping upper lip, as they have no upper front teeth, eating 40-50 lbs of vegetation a day. In winter they feed on balsam fir, and also eat grass and lichen. They chew the cud like cows, and have a similar four-chambered stomach. Moose are good swimmers and can browse underwater on pondweed, underwater plants and water lilies, also submerging to protect themselves from biting insects.
One of the biggest killers of moose is not humans, bears or wolves but the winter tick, which irritates the moose's skin. Rubbing off patches of hair reduces the moose's protection from extreme cold, and in severe winters this can kill half the moose in a heavily infested area.
The plural of ‘moose’ is commonly ‘moose’ but ‘moose’ was originally a Cree word, the plural of which (in Cree) is ‘moosoutch’ (though the plural isn’t needed very much, as they’re mostly solitary).
During moose mating season, the ‘rut’, a male digs a hole – called a ‘wallow’ - with his forefeet. He urinates in the hole, and splashes his antlers and neck with the muddy urine. He then keeps an eye on his wallow, hoping a cow will turn up. If she does she will cover herself in the muddy urine too. The rutting season is extremely competitive, so bulls eat as much as they can to add fat and muscle, and grow a new set of antlers for fighting. A full spread of moose antlers is called a rack. The biggest rack generally wins the rut and gets to service the harem of up to 40 attendant females. The victors do about 88% of the mating. The lowest-ranking bulls can only mate with cows that stray from the groups being defended by dominant bulls.
French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788), the world's leading zoologist at the time, declared that if an animal was found in both the Old World and the New World, the Old World version would always be bigger and superior. Thomas Jefferson, then U.S Minister to France, fought back, citing the moose. He compiled charts comparing the sizes of animals of both continents and sent the skin and skeleton of a New World moose to Buffon in Paris. Buffon replied ‘I should have consulted you, sir, before publishing my natural history, and then I should have been sure of my facts’.
Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.
According to the 18th century naturalist, Thomas Pennant, the moose's nose was the 'perfect marrow, and esteemed the greatest delicacy in all Canada.'
Maine boasts the world's largest (quite possibly the world's only) life-size chocolate moose. 1,700 pounds of ‘superlative grade’ milk chocolate were dripped and melted over a wire lathe to create Lenny - for such is his name - who is eight feet tall and over nine feet from nose to tail. He resides in a white chocolate pool dyed blue.
Lenny was unveiled on July 1, 1997, and is still on display in South Portland.
The Swedes love moose. Moose meat balls are a national favourite.
There are places in America called Moose, Mooseheart, Moose Jaw, Moose Lake, Moose Pass, and Moosehead Region.
A bull moose's antlers are wide enough for a child to sling a hammock between them.
There's a moose loose aboot this hoose.
The Loyal Order of Moose was founded in 1888 as a means of social networking, but now carries out community service projects. It chose moose as its emblem because moose are large powerful animals that are not predators.
The Loyal Order of Moose has 1.6 million members internationally and several thousand lodges in the US, Canada, the UK and Bermuda. Its headquarters are in Mooseheart, Illinois, which has a house for the orphans of members, and a home called Moosehaven in Florida, for aged Moose.
In the first half of the 20th century, The Loyal Order of the Moose provided social security benefits for its largely working-class membership at a time when the government provided no safety net to the wives or children of men who either died or became disabled.
Moose droppings are about the same size and shape as a Cadbury's Crème Egg. They are often varnished and turned into craft items for sale as novelty gifts. A moose dropping festival was held on July 7th and 8th 2000 in Talkeetna, Alaska.
Moose antlers are sensitive enough for the moose to feel a fly land on them.
Moose antler is the fastest growing animal tissue, sprouting an inch a day.
In Europe moose are called elks, from the Latin alces, and were first described by Julius Caesar in 50BC.
A moose's eyes can move independently, enabling them to see behind while still looking forward.
A bull moose weighs three times as much as a red deer stag.
The need for salt explains why moose are often seen licking roads during the summer.