Only because we've just been to Colorado and drove through tiny Walden, the self-proclaimed Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado, did I start thinking about moose. We didn't see any moose there except on the wall at the Moose Creek Cafe, nor did we see any in Kremmling when we ate breakfast at The Moose. And you'll remember we currently live near Moose Hill Sanctuary here in Massachusetts where we also have seen no moose. Elusive mooses.
As the largest member of the deer family, we call them moose in North America, but they're called elk in Northern Europe. Confusing because we have elk in North America (wapiti), but they're a totally different animal. Another one of those “two nations divided by the same language” situations.
We've seen them several times in our travels particularly in Alaska, Wyoming and Colorado. They're diurnal and huge, so they're easy to spot. Ungainly looking, tall and shaggy, they can run at about 35mph. That's pretty fast for such a klutzy looking animal. And they're good swimmers as well. These shy herbivores browse in deciduous forests and we've often seen them in streams and ponds, knee-high in water, passively eating pondweed. Sometimes they've surprised us (and vice versa) when we've been hiking in the woods or taking early morning walks.
They estimate there are roughly 300,000 moose in the US and maybe a million in Canada. I recently read an article in the New York Times describing unprecedented high death tolls among moose recently. That's a worrisome thought.
Here's a little moose trivia for you...
- The flap under their chin is called a bell. (I dare you to ring it).
- Moose have 32 teeth like humans, but no upper front teeth (akin to some humans), hence the reason they cannot whistle.
- Their upper lip is prehensile to help them grasp food.
- They're usually loners and do not form herds.
- Moose have 27 chromosomes. Humans have 23.
- The word moose was borrowed from the Native American Algonquian vocabulary and means “twig eater”. It's been used in the English language since 1606.
- The plural of moose is moose … or mooses (considered antiquated and irksome?) … or humorously, meese.
- There's the fraternal organization, Loyal Order of the Moose. Teddy Roosevelt belonged to the Bull Moose Party. And don't be confused with mousse for either hair care or dessert. David's favorite moose/mousse is chocolate. Mine is Bullwinkle J … with or without the squirrel.