Facts about Moose
There are more Moose in Sweden per square kilometer than any other country in the World.
Did you know that nearly 100,000 moose are shot each year during the hunting season? There are 400,000 moose in Sweden before the hunting season, 100,000 are hunted so that about 300,000 remain during winter, and some 100,000 are born each spring. However, these figures are not exact and the fact is that the population has decreased a lot since the 1980’s when the population was larger than ever.
Here we give you some basic and interesting facts about Moose.
Moose bull, photo: Marie Mattsson
Quick facts about Moose in Sweden
Scientific name: Alces alces
How large is a moose? Moose is the largest of all the deer species. They reach 170 – 210 cm height at shoulder. Bulls weigh weigh 380 – 850 kg and cows weigh 200 – 360 kg.
How long do they live? Moose may live up to 25 years but because of the intensive hunting few moose survive to become older than 10 years. Since more bulls are hunted only 5-10% of the bulls reach the age of 5 years, but cows often become 10 or even 20 years old.
What does a moose look like? Dark brown body with long greyish white legs. Males are distinct with antlers. Antlers are shed each Winter and grow out again during the Summer season. It has a short and stubby hairy tail, long nose and long ears. Under the throat hangs a pendant of fur like a beard. These hooves also act as snowshoes to support the heavy animals in soft snow and in muddy or marshy ground.
What is a moose family? Moose are solitary and do not live in families or herds. The calves follow the cow during one year. During the rut the bulls may come together to battle for mating supremacy. After mating, the two sexes go their separate ways. Though they may occasionally feed in the same grounds, they tend to ignore each other.
How many moose are there in Sweden: The Summer population of Moose in Sweden is estimated to be 300,000–400,000 individuals. Around 100,000 are shot in the annual hunt during Autumn, and 100,000 calves are born each Spring. It can be found all over Sweden except on the island of Gotland. Sweden has the densest population of Moose in the World. Although hundreds of thousands of Moose inhabit Sweden it can still be difficult to see a Moose in the wild. Some of the most densely populated ares with Moose in Sweden is Bergslagen and the rest of Central Sweden.
Breeding: The annual rut/mating season occurs during the end of September and beginning of October. During this period the bulls are active searching for cows and bulls typically mate with several cows.
The Moose offspring is called a calf. After a gestation period of 8 months (235 days) the cow gives birth to one or two calves, sometimes even three. The calf weighs 8-15 kilograms at birth and gain 1,5 kilograms per day during the first few months. The reddish fur changes into brown after about 2,5 months. The calf eat milk from the cow during 7-8 months. Young moose stay with their mothers until the following mating season when they are usually pushed away by the cow to give room for the new calves.
What does moose eat? Herbivore. Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. During Summer when food is plentiful they typically feed on herbs and leaves. During Winter they survive on shrubs and buds from Pine trees.
Natural predators: The most common moose predators are humans (hunting + traffic), wolves and bears.
>> Wanna see a moose live? A guided moose tour gives you almost guaranteed sightings!
Moose calf, photo: Marie Mattsson
More fun facts about Moose
- Moose are good swimmers! Once a Moose swam from Sweden to Denmark. Unfortunately, after about a week it was hit by a train and died.
- Moose can run faster than you! They can run up to 60 kilometers an hour and trot steadily at 30 kilometers an hour.
- Males, called bulls, bellow loudly to attract mates each September and October.
- If you want to make sure you see a Moose while in Sweden, join Sweden’s successful Moose Safari. They have seen Moose on each tour since 2003.
Moose cow, photo: Marie Mattsson
What is the difference between Moose and Elk?
Read carefully, this can be confusing!
The photo above shows a Moose according to North American English. In Swedish this animal is called Älg. And in British English it is called Elk. In fact they are the same species, Alces alces. But this is when it gets really confusing… In North America there is another member of the Deer family, the Wapiti, which is often referred to as Elk. So, the Swedish Älg is called Moose in American English and an Elk in British English. So it is the same species. But remember that the Elk in Europe is not the same as Elk in North America. Confusing? Take a deep breath and read again!
In other words… There are two different Elks, but only one Moose. And that’s the reason why we choose to call the Swedish Älg a Moose.