The American moose (Alces americanus
) is the largest member of the deer family. Moose have a large, heavy body and long legs. They have a long head, flexible upper lip and nose, and large ears. They have a dewlap that hangs from their throat. Their fur is dark brown (almost black) and fades during the winter months. Males grow large antlers in the spring and shed them in the winter. Male moose grow the largest antlers known in the animal kingdom.
Moose are usually solitary animals during the warmer months of the year but in winter they are known to form small family groups. They are most active during the hours at dawn and dusk. Moose are quite territorial and are often found near water. They will attack animals (including humans) that enter their territory.
Moose are adept swimmers and have been known to dive to depths of greater than 4m (13ft) in search of aquatic plants. Those plants form an important part of their diet as they provide necessary salts and minerals.
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Moose prefer wetland habitats including lakes, bogs, and riparian valleys. They also occur in forests (deciduous, mixed, and coniferous). Their range extends from British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, southward to northern Colorado.