Are Moose Smart?

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Introduction

When hunting for moose one might be surprised at how challenging bagging one is. Often the question people ask after a relentless and unfruitful pursuit, is are moose smart? Indeed, moose are smart and capable of problem-solving. Moose might appear as dim-witted perhaps because of their resemblance, slow movements, and cow-like expression.

Another observation about moose is that it is an animal capable of learning. It makes decisions based on its experiences and as hunters often learn when it is too late, once you spook a moose you will not find it. 

Moose are huge animals and it is easy to be deceived that you can easily make a quick hunt. The tracking and hunting of moose are not for the fair hearted as they pose many challenges based on their habitat and defensive artillery. 

Many other reasons make moose outsmart most of its would-be predators. They can be calm animals but when they want to, they can be quite a formidable opponent. Before you go out moose hunting, you should know more about the moose. 

Reasons Why I Believe the Moose Are Smart Animals

Great Use of Senses

Acute Sense of Smell

Moose have widely separated nostrils, and because of this adaptation, the separation may be enough such that each nostril samples a different part of a gradient. It makes the animal orient easily to its environment and track odors. In other words, thanks to their big noses, moose may receive up to two fields of scents. It strengthens their ability to determine the location and distance of smells. 

Specialized Nostrils

They have specialized structures within moose nostrils that will automatically seal off the nose from water. Most mammals tend to have open nostrils just like humans, but relatively few can close them with muscles. Moose, however, seems not to do it with muscles but rather by expanding the size of a pad of connective tissue due to the pressure of water.

Because of this adaptation, the moose has obvious advantages, and makes them far more dependent on aquatic habitats than all other deer species. Moose consume large amounts of aquatic vegetation, and that is why it is not an uncommon sight to see a moose standing in the middle of the wetlands. Most of the time their heads are fully submerged as they graze on underwater plants. Aquatic habitats also provide moose refuge from excess heat and insects.

Where Do They Live?

Moose Only Live in Places that have Snow Cover in the Winter 

Moose prefer colder climates as the perfect place to live. They cannot take much heat, over 80F (27C). During a hot summer day, you’ll see the moose population in the water trying to cool off. Moose are susceptible to heat stress because of their size and thick coats. Also, moose favor a long harsh winter. 

How Do the Moose Use Their Antlers?

Bull Moose Shed Their Antlers Each Year

There are some theories why moose lose their antlers in winter. One of them is that it makes it easier for bulls to forage in the winter when food becomes scarce. Moose antlers are large and heavy, they can weigh up to 40 pounds when fully grown. 

After a male moose is a year old, antlers start to grow and increase in weight and size each year. It is followed by a yearly cycle that starts when the bull moose begins to grow antlers in the spring and continue growing until September. Thereafter, the velvet that covers the antlers dries and falls off. Moose often rub their antlers on trees which help the velvet come off.

The antlers fall off between mid-November and March. It is not a painful experience but rather a necessary one. Antlers do not have any use during the summer but as mating season approaches, they are useful for intimidating rivals. Once in a while when there are any two bull moose of equal age and size, they may face off with each other.

Moose will lose their antlers every winter and grow new ones the following spring, based on day length and the testosterone levels. They are covered in velvet that is vascularized. It means there is blood flowing in the antlers which makes them grow fast and strong. By the time mating season reaches, bulls would have shed and shine their velvet racks by rubbing them against trees. It is a gory transformation, but the result is a shiny new antler for competition and display. 

Antlers are also a great indicator of age. With each winter, antlers grow in size: nubs become spikes and spikes become full racks. Bulls in their prime are aged between 5 and 8 and they have the largest racks. 

Their Antlers are not only for Fighting

When moose fight each other, it is not a fight-to-the-death scenario. And often a competing moose will back away from a fight if the opponent has an impressive rack than theirs. 

When most people see a full grown moose they get intimidated by the size of the antlers. People tend to assume that antlers are moose’s first line of defense. However, it is its sharp hooves that can mortally wound a bear or wolf when under attack. When fighting off predators, the antlers do not come so much into play. 

Moose mate in autumn and during this time, bulls will cover a lot of ground looking for females. To establish a breeding territory the bulls must fight off other males in the area. Great shiny antlers are not the only way to find mates. When a bull has better navigational skills, by luck it may come across a female and completely skip antler display and combat.

How Do They Ensure Survival

Organisms of All Sizes Pose a Threat to Moose

A fully grown moose is dangerous and it is why predators often target the old and the sick. Moose are formidable opponents but still have predators. Despite their sharp hooves and tremendous kick force, a bear or a pack of wolves can still bring down a moose. A downside though, is that as powerful as the moose is, a single bite from a wolf or bear can kill it. If the wound gets an infection the moose will be dead within two weeks. 

Moose and the Winter Tick 

Tick infestations depend on the weather and habitat: Harsh winters are moose’s’ favorite as it means fewer ticks the following year. The reason is that ticks fall off animals to complete their cycle and if there is still snow on the ground, they die. 

A tick-infested moose will react irritably and intensely groom themselves by rubbing against trees to remove the ticks. This response to irritation may sometimes result in hair loss and later reduced feeding activities. Moose that are affected by hair loss look pale gray and it is why they are sometimes referred to as ghost moose. The normal color of a healthy moose is brown with intact hair.

A severely tick-infested moose may die when facing the cold weather conditions of winter. It is because the animal is weak and more susceptible to predators. However, if in good health, a heavily infested moose may survive the cold harsh winter.

What is Their Temperament

Moose are Solitary Animals, except in Mating Season

Unlike most of their deer family, moose do not form herds and are often considered solitary animals. A bull moose will seek out one or multiple cows each season. After breeding they part ways until the next year. As solitary animals, it is not easy to track them through the woods. You may want to check out more information about their behavior on the article Is Moose More Dangerous than a Buffalo.

Moose Grow Fast! 

A baby moose grows at an incredible pace during its first year of life. Calves are born in the spring and can gain about one to two pounds every day. Later, they end up gaining up to five pounds a day.

Moose’s calves are also born innately smart. Utmost, they will only follow their mothers for one to one and a half years. They need protection from predators and afterward, they will venture on their own as they develop their natural survival skills by the following mating season.

Calves grow quickly and can outrun a person by the time they are only five days old. Moose is remarkably agile for its size, and it is capable of running at speeds of up to 36 miles per hour.

They are Natural Swimmers.

You might not think that an animal as huge as the moose can be as graceful in the water, but this is actually where moose feel most at home. Swimming comes innately to them as calves and can swim up to six miles per hour. Also, moose are known to swim for over ten miles without stopping. The nostrils of a moose close when the head is immersed in water and can submerge completely for thirty seconds or more. Moose even dive, to depths of up to five meters – and the deeper they dive, the greater the pressure, and the tighter the seal. It primarily functions as a valve. 

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Conclusion

Moose are smart animals that have very few predators. They are herbivores and are smart as they thrive in the habitat they live in. Moose have a lifespan of ten years but can live up to 25 years. 

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