Starting in January, mature bull moose undergo a hormonal change which tells their bodies to shed the previous year’s antler growth. Once this process begins, it will only be a few weeks before the bulls begin to grow new antlers. In a bull’s situation, the older (larger racks) fall 1st, then the younger/smaller ones.
In January, something drops!
Speciflcally, bulls drop their antlers from their foreheads. This area is on the bull’s upper skull. It’s called the “pedicle”, an area above and behind the eye. Once the antlers have shed, the pedicle will cover with fur and soon begin to bulge with new antler growth. This growth process will continue until September, when the antler is fully grown. Antler size depends upon a bull’s age, genetics and food quality. Cow moose do not grow antlers.
As a member of the deer family, bull moose antlers are covered during growth by a layer of “velvet” which wraps the growing antlers in a protective “fuzzy” covering which allows blood and nutrients to promote antler development.
Now, check out this guy in August.
This, and similar bull moose will lose the velvet, formerly covering their antlers, and will soon be ready to go head-to-head with other males for mating privileges in September.
Generally speaking, moose are solitary animals that do not travel in herds. In warm months, moose will feed on aquatic vegetation and can dive 20 ft below a water surface to reach that food. Year-round, moose are also twig eaters. Interestingly, moose have no upper molars. They are able to crush woody twigs with their lower teeth and upper palate. A moose ruminates food for a few hours, usually when laying down, and then fully digests the food intake and soon passes food.
In winter, bulls tend to congregate together. Not in herd formation, only a few may be seen close to one another. Moose cows do not socialize much, and will most often be seen only with their own calf/calves. A mature bull may weigh 1,200 lbs and can jump a 4’ fence on the run…..in 4 feet of snow. I’ve witnessed it !!!
A cow may have 2 calves each year…..same birthday. Each calf will weigh 35 lbs when they hit the ground!
Come and see the new generation of moose !!
Teton Wild. www.tetonwild.com