Moose

The moose is the largest member of the deer family and the Alaskan moose, Alces alces gigas is the largest of all moose. Forested areas, especially recently burned areas that contain willow and alder are the best habitat for moose.

Bergman’s Rule: The greater the body mass relative to surface area, the more advantageous the heat retention. This accounts for adaptation to harsh environment.

The Algonquin name for moose translates into English as “twig eater”.

Moose
Click photo by Kirsty Knittel, www.NaturalAlaska.net

Moose grow antlers annually reaching their peak size in late fall in time for the rut (breeding period). The largest antlers in the world have been observed in Alaska. Moose live about 16 years. Antlers are different from horns. Horns are permanently attached to the head and grow throughout the life of an animal. Antlers are re-grown annually only by bulls and predominately during the summer with their diet is rich. A soft covering of velvet covers the antlers and provides the blood supply that nurtures the growth. Antlers are shed in December or January. These antlers are a great source of calcium for everything from ground squirrels to grizzly bears.

During the rut bulls can lose 200 pounds, are fighting other bulls, sometimes sustaining injuries and facing their most challenging season…winter.

Cow moose generally breed at 28 months. Calves are born from mid-May to early June. Cows give birth to twins 15 to 75% of the time and triplets may occur once in every 1,000 births.

Calves begin taking solid food a few days after birth. They are fully weaned in the fall, the time when the mother is breeding again.

The peak of the rut is late September and early October. Adult males joust during the rut by bringing their antlers together and pushing. Serious battles are rare.

Abundant food is available only during the spring and summer months, about a 14-week period. Moose eat vegetation in shallow ponds, forbs, and the leaves of birch, willow and aspen. They forage within a fairly restricted area, about 15 square miles. In the winter, food is restricted to woody plants and as ruminants, the forage during the brief daylight hours and bed down to conserve energy and “chew their cud”. Cud is food regurgitated to be chewed again.

Alaskan Wildlife can be seen in Denali National Park. Kantishna Wilderness Trails provides Alaska Wildlife Day Tours while Kantishna Roadhouse offers Denali Wilderness Lodging and accommodations for Alaska Travel and Alaska Vacations deep into Denali National Park.

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