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What Are The Characteristics Of A Moose?

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Patricia Devereux Profile
In 1976, I was a summer camp cook in Alaska. On my first day in Anchorage, I saw a moose grazing in a suburban pond, and thought, "What the heck …?!" The huge, outlandish animal looked as if it were made up of many different species: Deer, giraffe, camel, horse.  Moose have very long legs, big hooves, a humpback and short tail. They have dark brown fur, large ears, a wide droopy nose and an overhanging top lip. A long flap of fur-covered skin (called a bell) dangles under its chin.  Moose live in all parts of Canada and the upper Midwest U.S. States and Alaska. In warmer months, they are found near lakes and marshes; in winter, they move to forests.  Male moose are taller and heavier than females. The male can be more than 10 feet long with a shoulder height of seven feet. Males can weigh more than 1,200 pounds. Moose antlers can be up to six feet across.  Moose have two large hoofed toes and two smaller ones. This arrangement allows them to move easily in swamps or spongy tundra.  Moose prefer to eat water plants, wading in to lakes to forage. During the winter, the moose feeds on berries, twigs and branches, pawing through the snow to get at grass and bushes.  Moose are good swimmers. They will lie in shallow water to get away from biting insects or to cool off.  Males use their  antlers for protection and fighting other males. A mother will protect her young by kicking with sharp, powerful hooves. In general, moose are solitary.  The moose has poor eyesight and relies on a keen sense of smell and hearing. They make a strange whistle-like call and grunting noises.  Moose have a very dangerous combination of a very large body and very small brain. They often wander into the paths of locomotives or vehicles, with fatal results. In Anchorage in 2005, a panicked young bull had to be tranquillized in order to disentangle its antlers from a child's swing-set. Another moose was spotted with a string of Christmas lights dangling from its antlers.

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