There's something about moose that begs for comedy. I think it's their noses.
Yet somehow these animals manage to be both comical and grand, graceful and awkward, all at the same time. I have always felt a deep affection and respect for these enormous beasts.
You'll know you're in moose country very soon after you arrive in Maine. The big tipoff is all those "Caution: Watch For Moose In Roadway" signs on the Maine Turnpike!
The moose is the official state animal of Maine.
There's even a month-long annual festival called "Moose Mania" that's held each spring in the Moosehead Lake region of central Maine. Events take place during the time of the year when moose are most visible.
If you just can't get enough of moose facts or moose-related activities, head for Maine's largest lake during Moose Mania and partake in events like the Moosterpiece Craft Fair, Moose Mainea Kid's Fun Day, Famous Moose Tales, a Quest Fest, the Chamber of Commerce's Annual Moose Photo Contest, Open House at the Moosehead Historical Society's Carriage House, Town-wide Yard Sale and a chance to tour the Katahdin Steamship.
Although moose are more prevalent in northern and western Maine, you're likely to run into them just about anywhere, including southern Maine.
I've had moose in my backyard, and once as I watched my noble visitor pick its way delicately back into the forest, I could hear my Texan neighbor yelling to his wife "Janet! C'mere! There's a horse loose across the street!"
This picture, courtesy of the Dockside Guest Quarters in York Harbor, is of a moose that just swam across the harbor to see if the grass was any greener on the other side!
The sheer number of moose in Maine, and the chance of encountering one, makes knowing some moose facts both useful and interesting.
You may even encounter a moose on the loose on York Beach, like the folks did in late June of 2010.
One of the most basic moose facts is that these things are huge! Moose are the second-largest land animal in North America - only the American bison is larger.
The average height of moose is 6 to 7 feet at the shoulders, and their bodies are 8 ½ to 9 feet long.
Adult males weigh between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds, and although adult females are smaller, they still tip the scales at over 900 pounds. Even baby moose are sizeable, weighing more than 30 pounds at birth and 300 or 400 pounds by the time their first winter arrives.
Their size makes adult moose potentially dangerous even though they are not usually aggressive (except when they're hungry, provoked, pregnant or have a young calf, or it's moose mating season - more on that later).
The average lifespan of a wild moose ranges between 15 and 25 years. Wolves, bears and humans are the most common moose predators.
Moose are the largest members of the deer family and are vegetarians, eating 40 to 50 pounds of grass, leaves, twigs, bark, tree shoots, lichen and aquatic and marsh plants every day. They are good swimmers and waders and often eat underwater plants.
Moose have a keen sense of smell and excellent hearing, and though in my opinion they have beautiful eyes, their eyesight is poor. Guess you can't have everything...
Males have impressive antlers weighing about 40 pounds and averaging about 5 ½ feet wide. Although the main purposes of these antlers are to show dominance and to display during mating season, they can intimidate people (as well as other moose).
Even More Moose Facts
Moose forage for food early in the morning, from noon to around 2 pm and again in the evening, and those are the times of day you'll be most likely to see one. Seasonally, you're most likely to see a Maine moose in May, June, September, October or December.
Stay a safe distance away if you see a female with a calf, because one of the most useful moose facts to know is that mother moose are highly protective and they can be very dangerous.
You should also be extremely cautious around male moose during mating (rutting) season.
Males are very aggressive during rutting season and are likely to charge you. Although moose typically move slowly, an angry moose can run as fast as 35 mph! A moose that charges might be bluffing, but this behavior should always be taken seriously. Even baby moose can inflict serious injuries.
Because moose can be dangerous at times, searching for them on your own in the backwoods of Maine isn't for the faint of heart.
If seeing a wild moose is on your bucket list, consider hiring a professional to take you on a "moose safari" (use the Search feature at the top right -- enter "Maine moose tours"). A number of Maine moose hunting guides provide this service and can help ensure your safety.
Moose are typically solitary animals and rarely form groups or travel in herds. However, several moose might be in the same area during moose mating season or "rut" (September through October in Maine).
During that time, males grunt loudly to attract females, and females make a sound that resembles wailing. Perhaps the females don't share the same enthusiasm as the males?
Moose calling during the rut is a bit more involved than standing around yelling "Mooooooooooose, moooooooooose!" For those who are moose hunting in Maine, moose calling is serious business.
Here's a short sample of what moose calling looks and sounds like (this video always makes me giggle):
Another one of the common moose facts is that males also fight each other for the right to mate with a female. These battles can be quite spectacular, and moose are particularly dangerous during mating season.
Like any other wild animal, moose can be unpredictable.
Always give them enough space, and carefully avoid provoking or startling a moose, because it could easily react by charging if it becomes frightened or angry. Fortunately, moose aren't territorial, and they don't consider people to be sources of food. As a result, if you're charged by a moose and you simply run away, it probably won't pursue you very far.
The Search For The Great Albino Moose
Legend has it that there are albino moose.
But are there really albino moose? That would come in pretty handy for camouflage during the Maine winters -- perhaps not as handy in the summer or during hunting season!
In order to be a true albino moose, however, the animal in question would have to have unpigmented skin and eyes.
It is quite likely that in the video below of a Canadian albino moose, and in other existing "albino" moose pictures, the animals are relatively rare white-coated moose, a natural variant. Other variants include the piebald, a mixture of white and brown.
An Important Final Piece of Moose Information
If you're driving a vehicle anywhere in Maine, stay on the alert, particularly in the early morning and early evening.
Their size and body structure makes moose a particularly dangerous animal to hit with a car. In fact, high speed collisions with moose are often fatal because seatbelts and airbags provide little protection against the violent impact.
That may be one of the most important moose facts to know, because it will help you remember to drive safely while you enjoy moose country!