The Shiras moose (Alces alces shirasi) has the smallest body of any North American moose. The body color is a rusty yellowish-brown. This huge animal has very long legs, a large hump on its shoulders, and massive palmate antlers. The antlers grow out from the sides of the head, with the main beam dividing into two principle branches. The smaller branch (palm) grows forward and the larger branch grows backwards.
Moose are solitary animals except when mating, or a cow with her recent offspring, living by itself in a small home range. They mate in September and October and calves are born May and June.
They mainly eat woody vegetation – notably willow, poplar, balsam, aspen and birch – eating leaves, twigs and bark. Moose also feed on aquatic vegetation by wading into lakes and streams.
Despite its ungainly appearance the moose is nimble and surefooted. It is able to cross swamps and quick sand where other animals would mire. Its normal gait is a quiet, careful walk, but can maintain a speed of 35 mph for a considerable distance. They have great endurance and are able to run up mountainsides or through deep snow and downed timber.
photo credit: Frank Leung