What do moose eat?

What do Moose Eat?

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Moose are the largest of the deer species and stand approximately 6 feet tall. The males have antlers which start to grow during fall, these antlers can reach a length of up to 4 feet from side to side, females do not grow antlers. Moose’s front legs are longer than the hind legs and they have thick brown hair which is hollow inside to help assist with isolation against the cold.

Moose are found mainly in Canada, Alaska and the North Eastern parts of America up to the Rocky Mountains. They are not very well adapted to handle warm weather and in summertime they will immerse themselves into water to cool off.

What do Moose Eat

Moose are herbivores and mainly grazzes on leaves, bark, roots, twigs and the shoots of plants. During the winter months they will feed on evergreen trees and plants like willow and aspen trees.
Because moose are very good swimmers they will also eat all kinds of water plants like pondweed, water lilies and horsetail.
Here is a quick look at all of the foods they enjoy eating.

Leaves and Bark

During the spring and summer months they will feed on the leaves and bark from willow trees, aspen trees and balsam fir which are their favorite food, but they will also feed on all kinds of other leaves and bark whatever is available in the habitat they live in.

Roots, Twigs and Shoots of Plants

As soon as the fall arrives they will start to feed on all kinds of bark of trees, roots of plants and trees, twigs and shoots of plants as the leaves fall from the trees and are no longer available to sustain them with the necessary nutritional needs.

Water Plants

During the spring and summer months moose will also submerge themselves into water, to cool off and then they will feed on all kinds of water plants like water lilies, pondweed and horsetail and all other kinds of water plants that are available.

How to Feed Moose

Moose are very hard to keep in captivity as they need very large areas for roaming. They consume a very large amount of food each day and are quite picky eaters. When they are kept in captivity they will be fed pellets and quite a lot of vitamin supplements as the natural foods they consume are not always available in the areas they are kept in captivity.

What do Moose Eat in the Wild

Moose are herbivores that mainly live in very cold areas like Canada, Alaska and the North Eastern parts of America. Their natural habitat consists of all the food they need in their diet. They feed on leaves, bark, twigs, roots of trees and plants, shrubs and flowers of some trees. Moose is good swimmers and will also feed on water plants like water lilies, pond weed and horsetail. They also eat fruits of various trees when it is available and in season.

What do Moose Eat in Captivity

Moose are very hard to sustain in captivity and there are seldom any moose in zoos. They are rehabilitated but not much is known about their feeding habits in captivity. Moose calves are fed on a milk formula mixed with goat milk, but up to now there is still now specific formulation. After six months the calves must be introduced to solid foods like leaves, bark and fresh shoots. Their diets are mostly filled up with pellets and vitamin supplements until they are ready to be reintroduced into the wild.

What do Baby Moose Eat

Baby moose are sufficiently fed by their mothers up to the age of six months or up to a year. The mother gradually introduces them to leaves, roots and shoots at first and then bark, and twigs. When they are ready their mother will take them into the water and show them which water plants they can eat like water lilies, pondweed and horsetail.

How Much do Moose Eat

To sustain their very large bodies with the correct amount of nutrients they eat between forty to sixty pounds each day.
During the summer months they will eat even more to build up enough fat and nutrition for the long winters.

Moose also need salt in their diet which they get from sodium enriched aquatic plants.
During the winter season, salt is not available in plants they will lick the side of roads where salts accumulate.

Moose also stays close to water as it not only keeps them safe from predators but they can also find very nutritious foods from water plants.

What is a Moose’s Favorite Food

Moose’s favorite foods are the leaves, bark and roots of Willow Trees, Balsam Fir and Aspen Trees. They also like to eat the kernels of Alpine Trees. The Aspen trees are evergreen and they can graze on the bark, leaves and roots throughout the year. The kernels of these trees are eaten when they fall from the trees. Moose also love to eat the leaves of water lilies and soft shrubs.

No, moose do not eat meat. They are solely herbivores. Because plants are not as high in nutrients as meat, moose must choose the most lushes and plant rich territories to consistently supply them with all the nutrients they need.

Do Moose Attack Humans

Moose are one of the most dangerous of the deer species. They are very territorial and aggressive when they feel threatened. Many humans have been attacked by moose. During mating season they are even more aggressive and they can kill a human with their sharp antlers.
Mothers with calves will also eagerly attack humans as they feel threatened and they are very protective of their young.
Mooses can run up to 35 miles per hour, making them even more dangerous as a human cannot outrun them.

Most natural inhabetted plants found in the areas where moose graze are not toxic but because humans also share the same areas the humans can unknowingly plant toxic plants that are very harmful to moose. Plants like Japanese Yew and Chokecherry contain high amounts of cyanide that can kill a moose very quickly. It is usually the calves that eat these toxic plants.

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Marvelous Moose Facts Explained: What Do Moose Eat?

Kidadl Team

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Published on Nov 11, 2021

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Moose are well known globally for their beautiful, tall antlers.

Moose are one of the largest deer family species, known for their solitary and aggressive behavior. If you ever think of keeping a moose as a pet, then you must drop the idea.

Moose are a native species to Canada, Alaska, New York, North America, and Russia. They are also found in many other countries around the world. From the behavior of moose, it is known that they are solitary and aggressive types of animals who often protect themselves from their predators, such as humans, wolves, and wild bears by being close to water bodies. Males can easily be differentiated from females by their antlers. Males often get into fights in order to mate with females. Male moose are called bulls. A moose gets most of its nutrients from the green vegetation it eats. The fur coat of the moose protects them from the harsh cold of the winter season. Balsam fir plants protect them during the winter season. The genus moose belongs to is Alces. Mostly, young calves in the wild fall prey to their predators. Bull moose antlers stop growing after the fall or autumn season so that they can prepare to mate. Moose have a humped back with thin legs and a large, heavy body. The IUCN lists moose as being of least concern. Moose are diurnal animals, and male moose are polygamous by their behavior. The mating season basically starts from September to October. Female moose go through an eight-month gestation period with a litter size of one to two calves during the spring or summer season. Their mating and birth-giving time might vary according to the location. A moose is known to survive somewhere between 15-25 years. In a few cases, a moose might even attack humans if they feel like they are being interfered with by them, especially during the mating and gestation period.

If you enjoy reading this article about what do moose eat then read some other interesting and surprising fun facts about how fast can a moose run and how tall are moose.

Will moose eat apples?

Yes, moose will no doubt prefer eating an apple.

Moose are herbivores on the basis of their food eating habits among wildlife animals. Moose prefer eating both land and aquatic vegetation. A moose species will no doubt eat an apple. In the summer season, a moose will be found around apple trees, but with the arrival of the autumn season, the fallen apples rot, and due to the fermentation of the fruit, the natural nutrients of the fruit do not remain the same.

So, this particular aspect, at times, might annoy these four-legged herbivores. Generally, a moose prefers to eat the bark and leaves of trees. Along with that, a moose can also be seen feeding on roots, twigs, water plants, and shoots of plants. During the winter season, moose prefer to eat evergreen trees and plants such as willow. It is believed that in summer, moose will eat more in order to build up energy for the winter season.

Moose Diet By Season And Location

The moose’s diet changes according to season and location. In the summer season, a moose will prefer eating green grass and aquatic plants, while in the winter season, a moose prefers eating rare plants of the area where they live.

In the spring season, a moose will prefer feeding on the natural green vegetation of an area, such as grass, shrubs, and blooms. In the summer season, a moose can be seen feeding on fruits, vegetables, and aquatic plants, while, with the arrival of the winter season and the fall of autumn, a moose can be seen feeding on willow tree bark, twigs, and roots of plants or trees. During the summer season, the sodium required in their diet food is recovered from aquatic plants. The balsam fir plant also protects this species from winter.

A moose and young calves in the wild or in a habitat that is cold, such as Canada, Alaska, and North America, will eat a natural diet of twigs, bark, leaves, roots, and flowers of trees. Moose as a species are good swimmers and also feed on horsetails, water lilies, and pondweed. Depending upon the season, the moose and its calves will have a variety of food. In the wild, you may find moose close to water bodies to feed themselves on water plants as well as protect themselves from predators.

Moose cannot live in captivity as they live better among wildlife. Moose calves are often seen feeding on goat milk, while a six-month-old calf, often confused as a deer, is introduced to twigs, leaves and the soft bark of a plant by its mother. The fresh shoot of a plant is also eaten by the calves of the moose species.

How do you feed moose?

Though moose are mostly calm by nature, they can be anything but calm when provoked. They are very quick with their actions and movements around wildlife, including their calves.

Moose species are not that easy to keep in captivity. Female moose are called cows, while male moose are called bulls. Cow moose are mostly aggressive when they have their own calves. Bull moose are aggressive with the fall of the mating season. During the mating season, bull moose can also be very dominant in their territory, including young moose. Generally, moose require large areas where they can roam around freely, similar to other wildlife. Even if you spot a male moose with tall antlers, a female or their calves, they are all fed with pellet food which has many supplements and vitamins quite similar to their own food in the wild. An adult moose will eat somewhere around 40-60 lbs (18-27 kg) of graze per day. Small and young calves are fed milk made from soft twigs, leaves, or branches of plants or trees.

Do moose eat meat?

No, moose do not feed on the flesh or meat of other animal species. Moose are herbivores and are very strict with their diet which is more oriented towards green vegetation and trees.

Unlike most wild animals, both males (bulls) and females (cows) of the moose species do not eat meat. As they are not naturally oriented to feeding themselves on the flesh or meat of an animal, they fulfill their food requirements through green plant species found in their habitat. They have a four-chambered stomach similar to that of a cow’s stomach. Their range of foods is bark, twigs, and the leaves of plants or trees. The young can be seen feeding themselves on soft plant parts.

What foods are toxic to moose?

Plant foods, such as Japanese yew and chokeberry, are toxic for moose species.

In the wild, moose with antlers or without antlers feed on a range of green vegetation throughout the year. It keeps on changing from season to season, including the location. Japanese yew and chokeberry have a high amount of cyanide which will naturally kill this species with beautiful antlers. Humans, many a time unknowingly, might grow them close to their habitat, which can be eaten by their calves as well as adults, depending upon food availability.

What is a moose’s favorite food?

The favorite foods of moose are leaves, bark, roots of willow trees, aspen trees, and balsam fir.

A moose grazes on evergreen vegetation that they can feed upon throughout the year. They also like to feed upon Alpine trees’ kernels. The kernels are when they fall down from the tree. Apart from this, they enjoy eating soft shrubs, water lilies, horsetails, and apples during their season. This species with antlers also vary in their favorite food before and after the mating season.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for ‘What do moose eat?’ then why not take a look at ‘Are there moose in Colorado?’ or ‘Moose fun facts for kids’?

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What Do Moose Eat?

A name can hold a lot of meaning — but in the case of the moose, its name hides the secret behind its diet. The word moose comes from the Algonquin language and translates into English as “eater of twigs”. It’s a fitting description for an ungulate that snacks primarily on a diet of bark, twigs, leaves, and pine cones. Moose have a preference for fir, aspen, and willow trees — and since young trees offer the best nutritional content, healthy moose populations can often be found in habitats that have recently suffered from forest fires.

But decently sized bodies of water are also a necessity for most moose. Winter deficiencies ensure that moose need to ingest a lot of sodium during the more verdant months, and the vegetation found in lakes, ponds, and rivers is packed with high salt levels. Let’s take a deeper look at the diets of these giant creatures to discover just what moose eat!

What Do Moose Eat?

What Do Moose Eat

Moose eat grasses, bark, willows, and trees.

Moose are herbivores that eat bark, grasses, leaves, and shrubs. Moose are generalist herbivores that in summer eat months eat mostly aquatic plants, deciduous leaves, and forbs. As food supplies tighten during the winter they’ll consume more twigs, shrubs, and needles. These winter food sources aren’t nearly as nutritious as what moose eat during the summer, but surviving in Northern climates across the winter requires adaptations!

Moose eat a diet that includes:

  • Twigs
  • Leaves
  • Bark
  • Pine needles
  • Pine cones
  • Fruit
  • Aquatic plants

The Background on Moose

There are four different moose subspecies that stretch all the way from Colorado in the south to Alaska in the north. And while their heavy coats necessitate cooler habitats, that also means that food is often scarce and nutritionally barren — a particularly immediate concern considering that the average male moose weighs between 900 and 1,500 pounds and can eat 40 to 60 pounds of vegetation in a single day. They can spend as much as eight hours a day gathering enough food to satisfy their appetite.

To help accommodate for the steep nutritional requirements of the world’s largest deer species, the moose has evolved a highly efficient digestive system. Like cows, a moose has a four-chambered stomach that allows them to regurgitate partially digested food and then chew on this cud to get every ounce of nutrition possible from it.

How Do Moose Forage?

Moose is what’s known as a generalist herbivore, which means that they can get their nutrition from a wide range of different sources. This is in contrast to specialist herbivores like the panda bear and koala — animals that subsist almost entirely on bamboo and eucalyptus respectively. Specialist herbivores are highly dependent on their existing ecosystem and are especially threatened by habitat destruction. Generalists like the moose can — and often have to — rely on a more diverse diet.

A typical moose’s diet might include food foraged from as many as 20 different types of trees and shrubs, but studies on the droppings of moose revealed that they’re highly selective about what food sources they prioritize. Moose will typically prioritize plant sources that are rarer for their habitat — a curious habit that suggests moose prioritize general nutritional diversity rather than pursuing one plant or another in particular. It’s also been hypothesized that a diverse diet reduces the risk of eating toxic plants in lethal doses.

The average moose towers between five and seven feet tall, and they feed on the bark, twigs, and leaves of trees because they have difficulty leaning over to reach the grass at their hooves. The lips of a moose are an incredibly delicate tool crafted to suit its dining habits. Its prehensile nature is designed for stripping bark, reaching high branches, and even evaluating the age of tree shoots. Moose will often graze for plants in shallow waters, but sometimes reaching the most nutritious food sources means diving as deep as 20 feet. Their uniquely oversized noses can block the nostrils, preventing liquid from getting in while the moose eats its meal entirely underwater.

What Animals Eat Moose?

The sheer size of the moose makes them one of North America’s most dangerous herbivores. The enormous antlers of the males are intimidating, but the hooves of a female can easily end the life of even a fully grown grizzly bear. Moose further reduce the odds of being attacked by controlling their environment. They graze often in bodies of water and are actually capable of swimming for miles at a time and reaching a speed of 30 miles per hour in the water. Unfortunately, there are dangers on the water as well. While rare, there have been instances of orcas devouring moose that venture out too far in open waters.

Almost all attacks on moose are orchestrated by black bears, grizzly bears, and wolves. Both bears and moose are solitary predators, but even grizzlies are usually reticent to attack moose unless the bear is very hungry or the moose is sick, wounded, or either very old or very young. Thanks to their pack tactics, wolves pose a much larger danger. In fact, many wolf populations would be decimated without populations of moose to prey on — as this large game can feed a whole pack. The danger of wolves is so great that female moose raising calves will often neglect their own nutritional content for the sake of protection. Females on Lake Superior have been seen retreating to smaller islands to raise their cubs, islands that have no wolf populations but also have barely any vegetation.

What do moose eat

Bull moose (Alces alces) feeds on fall foliage (Dwarf Birch) in the Denali Nat’l Park, Alaska.

What Do Moose Eat in the Winter?

The size, heavy coat, and absence of sweat glands necessitate that moose live in climates that are relatively cool throughout the seasons. Unfortunately, the ecosystems they live in are typically cold, frigid, and buried in snow during the worst of the winter season. To accommodate for this expected period of famine, moose employ a similar practice to bats and bears — bulking up so they can live off their excess fat during the leaner months.

The average moose will bulk up by a quarter of its normal weight to prepare for the winter. As leaves, fruit, and nuts wither and die, moose are left to rely on more nutritionally barren twigs to survive. But while the lack of suitable food is a problem, it’s one that’s further compounded by the additional energy needed to forage. This is where that added fat is especially advantageous. The available food in winter often yields only a third of the same nutritional value of equivalent food in the summer and spring. And while moose don’t hibernate in the conventional sense, they often have to determine whether foraging will expend more energy than they recover through their meal. Fortunately, moose have developed a highly insulated coat that helps regulate their body temperature and minimize their energy usage.

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AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and — of course — pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.





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Moose are the largest members of the deer family, standing six feet (1.8 meters) tall from hoof to shoulder, and weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms). Each of their light to dark brown hairs is hollow, and the air trapped inside provides insulation. A flap of skin called a dewlap hangs from the throat. Males are distinguished from females by their antlers, which grow up to six feet across.

Moose are found in the northern regions of the United States, from Maine to Washington, throughout Canada, and into Alaska. Due to their large size and insulating fur, moose are limited to cold climates. Forested areas with streams and ponds are ideal moose habitat.

Adult moose use their antlers or hooves to defend themselves from predators like bears and wolves. The much smaller calves are easier for predators to take down, and many of them fall victim to predation before reaching their first birthday. Moose also suffer from a predator of another sort, parasitic brain worms. White-tailed deer are carriers of the parasite, but it has no effect on them. When deer defecate, the brain worms are transferred from their waste to land snails. When moose unknowingly eat the snails while foraging for food, they ingest the parasite.

Moose are herbivores. The word “moose” is an Algonquin term meaning “eater of twigs.” Moose are so tall that they have difficulty bending down to eat grasses, so they prefer to feed on leaves, bark, and twigs from trees and shrubs. Their favorite foods come from native willow, aspen, and balsam fir trees. They also munch on aquatic plants from streams and ponds.

Male moose, called bulls, begin to grow antlers in springtime to prepare for the autumn mating season. Large, mature bulls with well-developed antlers usually get to mate with the female moose, called cows. When bulls are competing for the same cow, they may use their antlers to fight off their opponents. After the mating season, bulls drop their antlers. They regrow them again in the spring.

The young calves stay with their mothers for a year before venturing off to live a solitary lifestyle. Moose can live more than 20 years in the wild, but many begin to suffer the symptoms of old age before then. A more typical lifespan is 10 to 12 years.

Massive and majestic, moose are a cherished wildlife icon of North America. Moose often roam through residential areas looking for food, and motorists occasionally collide with them. Hunting and habitat degradation are major threats to moose, but now climate change has caused moose populations in Minnesota to fall dramatically.

Moose are being hurt by overheating, disease, and tick infestation—all tied to warming temperatures. Moose are in jeopardy across the United States, from New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine; to Minnesota and Michigan; and even Montana.

Overheating: Heat affects moose directly. These big mammals require cool climates to thrive, and summer heat stress leads to dropping weights, a fall in pregnancy rates, and increased vulnerability to disease. When it gets too warm, moose typically seek shelter rather than foraging for nutritious foods needed to keep them healthy. Many New Hampshire cows have been under the weight necessary to successfully bear calves the last few years and are producing fewer calves than they did a decade ago. Many biologists are concerned that they will have a difficult time adapting to climatic variability.

Too Many Ticks: Warmer winters have also caused spikes in the tick populations, further devastating the moose population. Ticks leave moose weakened from blood loss, and many die of anemia. Ticks also leave moose more vulnerable to exposure in the winter after their attempt to rub off the ticks leaves them with hairless patches. The New Hampshire moose population has plummeted by more than 40 percent in the last decade from more than 7,500 moose to just 4,000 today, and biologists attribute some of this decline to increasing parasite loads influenced by shorter winters caused by climate change.

Changes in the Earth’s climate directly threaten two treasured wildlife-associated pastimes in northern woods—wildlife-watching and recreational hunting. Wildlife watching and hunting are not just recreational pastimes; they are also a major contributor to the local economy, with wildlife-associated expenditures bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to states like New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, declining moose numbers have lead to a 80 percent reduction in moose hunting permits, down from 675 in 2007 to just 124 in 2014. As the moose population drops, the recreational activities and associated revenue surrounding the species is sure to follow.

To ensure the survival of cherished wildlife species like the moose, policies and practices are needed to address climate change. This includes reducing carbon pollution as well as adopting climate-smart approaches to wildlife conservation. We must make a serious effort to reduce carbon pollution at every level—from the choices we make in our households to the policies we adopt as a nation. America needs to embrace the development of responsible clean energy, such as wind and solar. And we must prepare for and manage the impacts of climate change to conserve our wildlife resources.

1. Male moose grow a set of antlers each year during the spring and summer. By fall, antlers can span six feet from tip to tip.

2. Though females lack antlers, they aggressively protect their babies with powerful kicks that can break bones or even kill predators.

3. Moose are browsers, feeding on the leaves and twigs of trees and shrubs, primarily willow, birch, and poplar.

4. Moose are excellent swimmers, able to hold their breath underwater for 30 seconds.

Final Thoughts

As browsers, moose can have quite a restricted diet of plants and vegetation. But, they eat a large variety within this bracket. They can opt for leaves, fruits, vegetables, grasses, grains, fungi, or trees.

Moose eat large volumes of these foods, and they are well adapted to finding them in winter conditions. Using underwater plants also helps the moose to have a larger supply of plants than animals that only eat on land.

Remember to leave moose to their own devices as it’s illegal to feed them in the USA. It’s not worth the risk it presents to you and the moose.

1 thought on “What Do Moose Eat In The Wild?”

Since deer are seen to eat birds, from scientific studies, especially it would appear when growing antlers, can you be sure moose do not also practise this, especially when additional calcium is needed that plants are not providing enough of. Thanks

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