Caribou feed mostly on grasses and plants in the summer and eat lichen and mushrooms during winter.
Caribou feed mostly on grasses and plants in the summer and eat lichen and mushrooms during winter.
Photograph by Jeff McGraw, Shutterstock


Common Name:
Scientific Name:
Alces alces
Group Name:
Average Life Span In The Wild:
15 to 20 years
Height at shoulder: 5 to 6.5 feet
1,800 pounds

A moose swims across a mountain lake, reaching the shore alongside a forest. The moose’s antlers—which stretch nearly six feet wide from tip to tip—drip water as the animal exits the water and trots toward the forest. The massive moose (weighing nearly 2,000 pounds) is the largest animal in the deer family.


Moose primarily live in areas that have cold, snowy winters. Their wide hooves act like snowshoes to help them walk in the snow or in muddy, marshy ground after the white stuff melts.

When the winter ice melts, moose spend much of their time swimming in lakes and rivers to keep their body temperature down on hot days, sometimes swimming without stopping for 10 or more miles. They’re pretty impressive on land too. An adult moose can run up to 35 miles an hour for short distances and 20 miles an hour for longer runs.

Year-round, moose snack mostly on leaves, stems, twigs, and the bark of small shrubs—and they eat plenty of all of these things. A full-grown moose can gobble up to 70 pounds of food a day.


Male moose, called bulls, begin growing their antlers in the early spring. They use the pointy ends of their shovel-shaped headgear to fight with other males when competing for mates. Female moose, called cows, don’t have antlers.

When mating season is over in the fall, bulls shed their antlers and head off to be alone until next year’s mating season. Cows typically give birth to one or two calves in the spring. The calves stay with Mom for about a year until the next mating season the following spring.

Adult moose are too big to have many predators, but bears, wolves, and cougars prey on calves. Unfortunately, the biggest danger to an adult moose is getting hit by a car.