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Moose Pheromones Active During Rut

9-11-14 cow moose urinating 436While the mating season, or rut, for moose peaks between late September and early October, mating behavior can already be observed. It is widely known that male, or bull, moose often paw a pit in the ground, urinate in it and then stomp in it in order to splash their underside, slap the urine with their antlers to disperse it, and lay down in the pit and wallow in their urine, soaking their undersides and neck. Their pungent urine serves as an aphrodisiac for female, or cow, moose, which are attracted to the pheromones it contains. A cow will enter a wallow, aggressively displacing the bull at times and even drink his urine.

However, it’s not just bull moose urine that attracts the opposite sex. The urine of a cow in heat (defined as the two days of their estrous cycle when they will allow a bull to mount them) is equally as attractive to bulls. At this time of their reproductive cycle cows frequently will urinate in the water and along the shoreline of lakes and ponds (look closely at photo).

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5 responses


    Amazing how similar the mating traits are to the Vermont human male! Thanks for letting us borrow E2 while you went native in Maine. Looking forward to seeing you both again soon. Terry


    September 11, 2014 at 12:15 pm

  2. Kathie Fiveash

    Mary, how serious is the problem of winter ticks on moose in New England? The cow in your photo looks like her fur is very sparse. But I thought the tick damage was mostly evident after the winter. Maybe this cow is just growing her winter coat?

    September 11, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    • Hi Kathie,
      From what I’ve been told, winter ticks are more of a problem in NH and VT than in Maine, but research done in Maine indicates that perhaps as much as a third of the population may be affected. I found this article on winter ticks by UNH extension very informative: Having seen photos of moose at the end of winter, after the ticks have been feeding, I know there can be heavy hair loss. I think the moose I photographed is relatively healthy — the open sores that are visible are more likely made by flies than ticks. I believe moose in all parts of New England have been seriously affected by this parasite, but I am far from an expert on it!

      September 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm

  3. Kathryn


    September 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm

  4. Interesting habits! But humans are known to act pretty crazy in response to pheromones as well!

    September 13, 2014 at 2:35 am

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