Moose Watching in Maine
The best moose viewing opportunity has to be seeing one in its own element; out in the woods, while you are hiking, ATVing, or snowmobiling. Don't forget the camera!
If you have never seen one of these large members of the deer family in person, you can not imagine just how large an animal they are. Mature bulls can weigh over 1000 pounds and are about 7 feet tall at the shoulders. SO if you see that flashing moose sign on the highway, stay alert! And remember, although usually moose are not aggressive, they are still wild animals and deserve our respect.
MOOSE FACTSThe moose is the official State Animal of Maine.
Moose Statistics and Appearance
- Life span: 15-25 years
- Male moose weigh about 1200-1500 pounds
- Female moose weigh more than 900 pounds
- Newborns are about 33 pounds and will be 300-400 pounds by its first winter
- Average Body length: about 8.5 feet
- Average Height: 6-7 feet at the shoulders
Moose have long, lighter-colored legs with the front pair longer than the hind ones. Other features include a long nose, drooping lip, hump at the shoulders and small tail. The flap of skin that hangs beneath the throat is called a BELL.
Moose AntlersOnly the males have antlers, massive flattened ones averaging 5.5 feet across and 40 pounds in weight. These antlers have as many as 30 TINES (or spikes), the shape differing from animal to animal.
Mature males shed their antlers once a year in November/December and replace them with new larger ones beginning in the spring. They are formed of living tissue supplied by blood through a network of vessels covered with a soft smooth skin called VELVET. Eventually the tissue solidifies, the velvet is scraped off and the antlers become completely formed of mineralized dead matter. Their main function is for display during the rutting season (mating season which is Mid September to mid October) and to show dominance within the herd.
Moose DietMoose are browsers rather than grazers. They obtain most of their food from aquatic and marsh plants such as horsetails and pondweed. Moose also eat grass, lichen, plants growing on the forest floor, peeled-off bark and leaves from willows, sallows, and poplars. They can even eat under water.
Moose BehaviorMoose are active throughout the day with activity peaks during dawn and dusk. They are good swimmers and are able to sustain a speed of 6 miles per hour, and can run up to 35 mph.
Moose are not normally aggressive, however, they can be very aggressive when hungry, tired or harassed by people, dogs, and traffic (sounds familiar!).
- During the mating season (September-October) Bull moose are often more aggressive toward people.
- Mothers, during pregnancy, can be very aggressive, (probably due to the lack of food in the winter)
and also are very protective of their young calves. They will attack humans who come too close.)
- You can identify when a moose might attack if the long hairs on its hump are raised
and it's ears laid back. A moose may also lick its lips.
- Charges may only be "bluffs", warning you to get back, however take this
seriously as even a young calf could cause significant injuries from its size alone.
- A male moose may use his antlers to hold off a predator but when he/she does charge,
it often kicks forward with its front hooves as a moose's sharp hooves are his first line
of defense. They can kick out in all directions.