Denali National Park & Preserve

Denali National Park & Preserve

Species Spotlight: Moose

March 10, 2011, 9:50 am

When traveling to Alaska, most visitors will spend time going wildlife watching. One of the most popular animals to search for is the moose. Making their home across nearly the entire state, the animals can be spotted year round. Some of the largest moose in the world call Denali National Park home.

Moose can appear a light brown to an almost black color depending on the season. With tall legs and an elongated circular snout, the moose is distinctly different in appearance from its elk relative. Tall, spindly legs in combination with large hooves give the moose an impressive stature. Males grow and shed their antlers each year, which can reach up to five feet in width.

The moose is the largest member of the deer family and one of the biggest land mammals on the continent. At adulthood, males can weigh anywhere from 800 to 1600 pounds and stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder. Their long legs are well designed for navigating the deep snow.

During the spring, females can sometimes be spotted with twin calves because most of the newborns will not survive to the winter. With over 100,000 moose roaming through the state, bears and wolves are the natural predators that keep the population in check. Their primary targets are young calves and hunt larger sized animals much less frequently.

Inhabiting the forests of Alaska, visitors can sometimes spot them while driving the Alaskan Highway. Moose sometimes graze along the side of the road in search of grasses. They are excellent swimmers and, during the summer, feed on aquatic plants. The water is also a way to cool off during hot weather and avoid swarms of mosquitoes that invade in summertime.

Moose, like most animals, generally do not attack unless they are provoked or feel threatened. Moose will defend themselves by kicking or charging, especially mothers with calves. Although moose do not appear fast and can generally be seen walking slowly, they can reach a top speed of 35 mph. It is important to remember to always give them space and keep a safe distance.

Fun Facts

Moose can swim up to 6 miles per hour and dive underwater.

The Moose got its name from the Algonquin word “Moos”, which means twig-eater.

Moose do not have front teeth on the top of their mouth, only the bottom.

Despite being massive in height and weight, a male moose has a tail just 3 inches long!

The typical lifespan for a moose is about 15-20 years.

Just five days after birth, a baby moose can outrun a human!