A walk through a moose territory may bring you face to face with a few antlers. This is especially the case in the winter.
The male moose (bull) will annually shed its antlers that are not fused to the skull. The female moose (cow) doesn’t grow antlers. Antlers are especially useful during the mating season. Once they have shown how impressive their antlers are and have enjoyed the breeding season, they will have no problem shedding them. Moose antlers can grow up to 1.8m long end-to-end.
Do moose shed their antlers? The moose antler shedding cycle is an interesting one. In late winter or early spring, the bull will lose its antlers and, while a new set will start growing in the spring. The new set will remain covered in velvet as it grows until the mating season when a shiny new set of antlers will emerge from the velvet. During the mating season, the biggest, shiniest, antlers will impress many ladies, only for the shedding cycle to be repeated.
If you love watching wildlife, it is best to steer clear of moose during mating season, or any animal for that matter. Moose are generally not aggressive, however, they will not hesitate to charge if they feel provoked. The mating season brings out high hormone levels that you don’t want to encounter in a moose. While at it, you might want to stay away the cows with calves as they will want to protect their young.
Each season, the antlers will grow bigger as the bull ages until it reaches its prime (about 10 years old).
The older the bull gets, the bigger its antlers will grow. And, if they get damaged in a fight, they will recover gradually, growing back a little at a time.
Factors That May Influence Moose Shedding Their Antlers
Now that we know that moose shed their antlers, let’s have a look at other interesting facts? Besides the annual shedding, the bull may also shed its antlers following different factors as mentioned below:
- If the moose is stressed, it may lose its antlers prematurely.
- Injuries such as from fights may also result in a loss of antlers.
- If the winter is harsh then the male moose may lose its antlers as well.
- If it consumes poor-quality food then this may also affect how fast it loses its antlers.
- The older the moose grows, the faster it may lose its antlers.
- Genetics may also affect antler growth and ultimately result in shedding.
Moose Feeding Habits
Moose are herbivorous and their diet consists of leaves, roots, barks, twigs, and shrubs. However, what do moose eat will not be the same year-around. Their feeding habits may change with a change in season. For example, during winter, they enjoy eating twigs, barks, or other dried-up vegetables while they may hunt for aquatic vegetation in the summer.
Being good swimmers, they may also enjoy water plants such as water lilies, horsetails, and pondweed. They can swim for several miles and have no problem remaining submerged in water for up to 30 seconds.
Moose shed their antlers annually, in late winter or early spring, depending on their location. They primarily use them during the mating season to challenge their competitors in a bid to catch the female’s attention.