Moose use a range of sounds to communicate with each other and signal to potential predators or threats to their young. These sounds vary in duration and pitch. There are also differences in the sounds that bulls, cows, and calf moose make. But what sound does a Moose make most of the time, and why do they make that noise?
Most of the time, moose make a moaning sound. Moose make this sound for a variety of reasons, but mostly to communicate with other Moose during the breeding season, referred to as the rut.
Why Do Moose Make Sounds?
Moose make sounds to communicate with other moose and with predators. Sounds are the primary way moose communicate because moose are very solitary animals and are not normally around other moose.
Unlike other species of deer which may live and move in groups called herds, they can’t use body language as easily to send a message.
The different moose sounds are very distinctive and all have a specific purpose.
What Does a Male Moose Sound Like?
Male moose (called Bulls) make many sounds but are most vocal during mating season. They make moaning and grunting sounds to find and attract females.
While it can sometimes be difficult to tell which sound the moose is making, male moose make three main sounds:
- Roar, and
- Grunt or Croak
The bellow is the loudest sound the male moose makes and can be heard up to six miles away. Hunters often hear this sound when walking through the forests.
Male moose make this sound when they are alone looking for a female to mate with. They also make this sound in response to a female moose sound.
The roar is the most aggressive sound made by a moose. Male moose usually make this sound when they are trying to ward off other moose.
They also make this sound when they feel like there is a threat, like a human or other predator. This sound indicates that the moose is agitated and ready to fight if necessary.
The roar does not sound like what you would think of like a tiger or lion. It is more of a deep roaring sound, like a furious cow. It has a distinct alarming sound which should be obvious to humans in the area.
Grunt or Croak
The grunt or croak noise is a low-frequency call that can only be heard in close proximity to the moose. Male moose use this sound to try to get the attention of female moose in the area to breed with.
Hunters often use this sound to attract moose because it is very effective and easy to imitate.
What Does a Female Moose Sound Like?
Female moose (called cows) usually make a moaning sound. It is made when the female opens her mouth and is not particularly loud.
Females use this sound to attract males that are close by. They also use this sound if they are unsuccessful in enticing a male moose.
The sound is distinctive because it usually comes in three or two parts that each take two to three seconds, although sometimes they can be drawn out for up to 10 seconds.
What Does a Young Moose Sound Like?
A newborn calf (the name for a baby moose) makes a very distinctive high-pitched sound.
They are quite vocal and will often make this sound repeatedly for several minutes. This stage only lasts for a few days, then the calf develops a less high-pitched wail that is often reported to sound like a human.
Calves mostly make noise to communicate with their mother, telling her they are uncomfortable, scared, or hungry.
What Does an Angry Moose Sound Like?
In addition to the bull sounds described above, male moose make a variety of sounds when they are angry, especially when they are challenging each other during mating season.
Angry moose sounds are deep and short grunts, often several in a row every few seconds. The grunts can sound quite different, and have been reported to sound like hiccups or deep coughing sounds.
If you are a hunter or out in the woods, it is not advised to imitate these moose sounds. Attracting a moose in this way could result in an attack, and moose are very aggressive.
What Does a Moose Warning Call Sound Like?
When moose are in danger, from a human or other predator they produce a growling noise. They also produce this noise when they lose track of a calf. The moose growl is an aggressive sound that sounds similar to the growl of a dog.
This sound tells the predator to back off, and can be heard as far as half a mile away. The warning call often precedes any angry moose sound.
What Other Sounds Does a Moose Make?
In addition to the vocal sounds that male moose make, they also make noises with their antlers. Male moose do this by aggressively scraping their antlers on a tree or across the bush.
This is done as a warning sign to try to deter other male moose from coming to the area. The moose is trying to show off the size and strength of his antlers and scare off other bulls.
Do Moose Sound Different Depending on the Species?
While there are slight differences between the different types of moose, the sounds they make are very consistent across sub-species. The sounds are consistent because they are a shared language of moose, regardless of species.
If different species made different sounds, only species of the same kind would be able to communicate with each other.
How to Imitate Moose Sounds
Hunters often try to imitate moose sounds because it can be an effective way to attract moose to a specific area. The most effective moose sounds to imitate are the cow call and the bull call.
There is no equipment needed to imitate these sounds, only a tool to amplify your voice, like a cone or cupped hands. Here are some tips to help you effectively imitate moose sounds:
- Set up in an area where you know there are moose nearby
- Mix up cow calls with bull calls or grunts
- Make sure the wind is blowing the right direction so the moose doesn’t smell you
- Take your time, moose are never in a hurry
As you can see, moose are very sophisticated animals that are very perceptive and consistent. If you are in an area where moose are common, it is important to familiarize yourself with the different moose sounds to stay safe.