Taller Than a Horse: Moose Facts for Kids

Size and Shape

A moose is taller than the largest horse. An adult moose stands 1.4–2.1 m (4.6–6.9 ft) high at the shoulder, This is the largest member of the deer family.

Its shoulders have massive muscles that make it look like it has a hump.  It has ears like a mule and fur-skin hanging from its throat.  This is called a bell.  Their name comes from the native or indigenous people.

A male (bull) normally weighs from 380 to 700 kg (838 to 1,543 lb) and females (or “cows”) typically weigh 200 to 490 kg (441 to 1,080 lb),

The moose varies in brown colours:  dark brown, reddish brown or greyish brown.  It looks like it has white or grey long leg socks.  Some cave paintings of moose are as old as 6,000 years.


Female Moose (no antlers) with her calf

Moose prefer cold weather.  When it is hot, they cool off in lakes or any water.  In fact, moose find their food in water -often diving 5.5 m or 18 feet to reach plants.  They also eat the shoots from trees.

Moose have been known to swim 19 km (12 miles). Only the caribou is a more powerful swimmer.

Moose have long legs that can powerfully move them over dead trees, over rocks and hills and into deep snow.  If frightened, moose can charge and make noise by moving dense bushes that get in its way.  When it is calm, it can move almost silently like a cat.  They are solitary animals and no not live in herds.

Avoiding Predators

Before a moose gets ready to bed down to sleep, it will move upwind and then swing back.  Predators following its track and scent then have to approach the sleeping moose from down wind.  This allows the moose to smell and hear its enemies such as wolves, bears and humans.

Where are They Found?

Canada” dark brown show where moose are found
Red shows world-wide moose populations

Canada has almost one million moose.  You can see on the map that they are found also in Alaska, New England (USA), and European countries such as Latvia, Estonia and Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland.  For some communities, moose is eaten as food.

Mating and Young Calves

Mating begins in the Fall/Autumn and females like to date bulls with large antlers.  This tells the cow that he is strong and she hopes that her young calves will be strong, too.  After mating, bulls drop off their antlers to give them more strength to survive harsh winters. Two layers of fur keep moose warm. Birds, carnivores (meat eating animals) and rodents (mice, rats) eat the fallen antlers for protein.   Calves are born in May or June when it is spring and food is easily found. There is usually one baby or twins if there is a lot of food available. After 9 months, a calf is ready to leave its mother.

Are Moose Aggressive?

Because of the large number of moose, there are more people injured than any other animal.  The hippo comes next in injuring people.  They are not normally aggressive unless there is a dog present and then they may charge.  Cows with calves will charge in order to protect their young. People getting too close for photos may upset moose.   People need to read the “body language” of moose.  If people get too close, the moose will first stare or make eye contact.  Their ears will go back in fear or anger (like horses). The hair on their back is a sign also that they are ready to charge.  They are huge and can kick with front and back legs.  They can kick in all directions: front, back and sideways.   It is their ability to kick that save the young calves from attacks by bears and wolves.   Moose will also let out a loud call as a warning.  The darker coloured moose are the most likely to be aggressive.