Coat of arms of the Russian Federation


Latin name: Alces alces
Family: Deer

Elk or elk - a cloven-hoofed mammal, the largest species of the family of reindeer


The length of the male body is up to 3 m, the height at the withers is up to 2,3 m, the length of the tail is 12-13 cm; Mass 360-600 kg; In the Far East of Russia and in Canada - up to 655 kg. Females are smaller. In appearance, elk differs markedly from other deer. Torso and neck are short, withers high, in the form of a hump. The legs are very elongated, therefore, to get drunk, the elk is forced to go deep into the water or kneel on the front legs. Head large, hooked, with overhanging fleshy upper lip. Under the throat is a soft leathery growth ("earring"), reaching 25-40, see Coat rough, brownish-black; Legs light gray, almost white. In males, huge (the largest in modern mammals) shovel-shaped horns; Their swing reaches 180 cm, weight - 20-30 kg. The horn loses every year in November - December and goes without them until April - May. Females are hornless. Often elk is called elk because of horns, its shape resembling a plow.


Los is distributed in the forest zone of the Northern Hemisphere, less often in the forest-steppe and on the outskirts of the steppe zone. In Europe it is found in Poland, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, Byelorussia, in the north of Ukraine and in Scandinavia and Central Russia; In Asia - from northern Mongolia and northeastern China to the northern part of the Siberian taiga. In North America, is found in Alaska, Canada and the northeast of the United States, reaching the state of Colorado. In Russia, there are about 730 thousand individuals (about half of the total population), and on the Earth - about one and a half million. Forms from 4 to 8 subspecies (according to different sources). The largest moose with the most powerful horns belong to the Alaskan subspecies A. a. Gigas and to the East Siberian A. a. Pfizenmayeri; The smallest elk with deer-shaped horns - to Ussuriysky subspecies A.A. Cameloides. Some authors divide the Eurasian and American moose into two separate species - Alces alces and Alces americanus.


Moose inhabit different forests, thickets of willow trees along the banks of steppe rivers and lakes, in the forest-tundra they keep on birch and aspen trees. In the steppe and tundra in summer they meet and away from the forest, sometimes for hundreds of kilometers. Great importance for moose has the presence of marshes, quiet rivers and lakes, where in summer they feed on aquatic vegetation and escape from the heat. In winter, for elk, mixed and coniferous forests with a dense undergrowth are necessary. In that part of the range, where the height of the snow cover is not more than 30-50 cm, the moose live sedentately; Where it reaches 70 cm, for the winter they make transitions to less snowy areas. The transition to wintering places is progressing gradually and continues from October to December-January. The first are females with moose, the last - adult males and females without moose. On the day, the moose pass through 10-15 km. Reverse, spring migrations occur during the melting of the snows and in the reverse order: the first are adult males, the last ones are females with moose.


The moose do not have certain periods of feeding and rest. In the summer, the heat makes them nocturnal animals, in the daytime they drive to the glades where the wind blows, into lakes and swamps, where you can hide in the neck in the water, or into dense coniferous young growth that protects little from insects. In winter, moose feed in the daytime, and at night they stay almost all the time on the leash. In large frosts, the animals lie in loose snow so that only the head and the withers protrude above it, which reduces the heat transfer. In the winter, elk tramples the snow heavily on a site called a "stable" by the hunters, a stall. The location of the stalls depends on the feeding places. In Central Russia, these are mostly young pine forests, in Siberia - thickets of willow trees or shrub birches along river banks, in the Far East - sparse coniferous forests with deciduous undergrowth. Several moose can be used as a stand at a time; In Prioksky pine forests in the 50-ies of the XX century in winter in some areas was going to 100 and more moose on 1000 ha.


Moose feed on arboreal and shrubby vegetation, as well as mosses, lichens and fungi. In summer, they eat leaves, taking them out because of their growth from a considerable height; Feed on water and water plants (watch, caluzhnitsa, kubyshki, water lilies, horsetails), as well as high grasses on burnt and logging areas - kipreem, sorrel. At the end of summer they look for mushrooms, blueberry twigs and cranberries with berries. Beginning in September, shoots and branches of trees and bushes begin to mow and by November they almost completely pass to the forage. Among the main winter fodder of elks are willow, pine (in North America - fir), aspen, mountain ash, birch, raspberries; In a thaw they gnaw the bark. For a day the adult moose eats: in summer about 35 kg of feed, and in winter - 12-15 kg; For a year - about 7 tons. With a large number of elks damage forest nurseries and plantations. Almost everywhere, moose people visit solonetzes; In the winter lick salt even from highways. Losi quickly, up to 56 km / h, running around; Swim well. Searching for aquatic plants, can keep your head under water for more than a minute. From predators defended by the impact of the front legs. Of the senses in the moose, hearing and smell are best developed; Vision is weak - a person standing motionless, he does not see at a distance of a few tens of meters. Moose very rarely attacks man first. Usually the attack occurs with irritating factors or approaching the moose.


Males and single females live singly or in small groups according to 3-4 animals. In summer and winter, adult females walk with moose, forming groups of 3-4 heads, sometimes they are joined by males and single females, forming a herd in 5-8 heads. In the spring, these herds decay. The gon in the moose takes place in the same season as the deer, in September-October and is accompanied by the characteristic deaf roaring of the males ("groan"). During the rut, males and females are agitated and aggressive, they can even attack a person. Males make fights, sometimes to death. Unlike most deer, elk is a conditional monogam, rarely mates with more than one female. Pregnancy in elk lasts 225-240 days, it is stretched from April to June. In litter is usually one losenok; Old females can have twins. The color of the newborn is light-red, without white spots, characteristic of deer. Elk can get up a few minutes after birth, through 3 days freely move. Milk feeding lasts 3,5-4 months; Milk elk has a fat content of 8-13%, that is, 3-4 times fatter than cow's, and contains 5 times more proteins (12-16%). Sexually mature moose become in 2 year. After 12 years elk begins to age; In the nature of elks older than 10 years no more than 3%. In captivity, they live to 20-22 years.


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