If you’ve ever seen a moose, you must have noticed how these 1,500 pounds heavy beasts have large ears, long squared faces, and huge antlers.
However, when it comes to the other side of a moose, many people wonder: Do moose have tails? And are those tails white?
In this post, we’ll address some widespread misconceptions, and explain what the moose tail looks like, how long it is, and what it’s used for. Read on!
Do Moose Have Tails?
Yes, moose have tails. Just like in other animals, a moose tail is an appendage attached to the torso of the animal. Some describe it as a well-haired flap.
The tail of a moose is short, stubby, and looks vestigial – like a remnant of something that was once much larger or more noticeable.
Some seem to think that the color of a moose tail is white – this is not the case.
Do Moose Have White Tails?
No, moose do not have white tails. The tail of a moose has the same color as its fur – it can range from golden brown to almost black.
People think moose have white tails because of the white triangular spots under the tails of cow moose (females).
Those white spots under the tail are called vulva patches and can be used to identify the sex of the moose. Those white parts are 4 by 8 inches in adult moose and are sharp in contrast with the adjacent dark hair.
Females will have white vulva patches that become more distinct as they age, but are always present. Bull moose (males) do not have such spots.
If you happen to approach a moose from the rear (hopefully not too close) and there is a white spot under the tail you can be certain it is a cow moose.
After antlers (only males have them), the patch is the best indicator of the sex of the animal.
How Long Is A Moose Tail?
A tail of a moose is between 2 and 4.5 inches long. Due to their enormous size, the moose tail’s relatively short length gives an impression that these animals do not have one. That is certainly not the case.
Let’s compare the moose’s tail length to the tails of other animals.
Moose Tail Size Compared To Other Animals
Compared to their huge size, moose have some of the shortest tails in the animal world. Camels, that weigh similar to moose, have over 7 times longer tails than them. Even a lot smaller animals like llamas have almost 3 times longer tails than moose.
Compared to giraffes who have the longest tails in the world (up to 8 ft), moose have significantly shorter tails.
It’s the same situation when comparing moose and African elephants who have tail lengths of up to 60 inches.
One of the rare animals that has a shorter tail than a moose is a bobtail cat which has a short, stubby and bobbed 1-4 inches long tail.
|African Elephant||39-60 in|
|Bobtail cat||1-4 in|
What Do Moose Use Their Tails For?
The main function of the moose tail is unknown to scientists. Compared to other hoofed mammals, the tail is too short to swish away flies and other insects. It does not seem to play any role in mating rituals, as it does in camels.
One possible explanation is that moose lost their tails during evolutionary history as a way to adapt to their environment. Since they live in cold climates, as the millennia passed, the moose may have lost their tails to prevent losing extra heat from their already gigantic bodies.
Some biologists claim that moose also had some glands in their tails that emitted a very strong odor that was used to communicate. Now, the short tails keep their anus from freezing in extreme temperatures and help moose retain more heat.
Still, more studies are required on this topic to make proper conclusions.
Final Thoughts – Do Moose Have Tails?
In conclusion, moose do have tails. Moose, also known in Europe and Asia as elk, is the largest and heaviest species of deer. They stand 5 to 6.5 feet tall at the shoulder, 7.5 to 10 feet in length, and weigh up to 1,500 pounds.
Due to the enormous size of the animal, it might seem to some that moose do not have tails; this is certainly not the case. The tails are short, stubby, and 2.5 to 4.5 inches big.
The tail function is unknown and its short size might be just one of the environmental adaptations of moose to cold climates.
If you were pondering on the question “do moose have tails”, we hope this article removed all doubts.
And if you enjoyed it, here’s a recommendation on another popular read on deer: how do deer reproduce, by laying eggs or giving birth?