The moose, which is a large animal of the deer family, is the official state animal of Alaska. The male moose, often referred to as a bull, will grow large crescent-shaped antlers on the head upon reaching maturity. A females is commonly referred to as cow moose. Moose populate wooded and rural areas of Alaska, and can even be found in some towns and villages. It was not until 1998 that this colossal mammal was designated the official state animal of Alaska.
Although several members of the deer family are native to Alaska, including the caribou and mule deer, the Alaskan moose is the largest of these. Male Alaskan moose can weigh more than 1,000 pounds (453 kilograms). One of the most noted physical characteristics of the state animal of Alaska is an elongated face that droops slightly forward. The long legs of the Alaskan moose support its stout, muscular body. A large flap of fur-lined skin can be seen hanging loosely below the chin of the moose.
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Other characteristics of the Alaskan moose are its contrasting colors. The legs are gray, while the body of the animal is dark brown. All moose have a hump on the shoulder as well.
Alaskan moose feed on vegetation, such as water plants and various types of tree bark. These massive land mammals are decent swimmers and often swim a great distance in search of food. On land, the moose can reach fast speeds, although not as fast as lighter, more agile members of the deer family.
The state animal of Alaska generally prefers to dwell in forested areas. It is not uncommon, however, for moose to be seen foraging for food in populated areas during the cold winter months. Farmers must often deal with moose destroying crops, especially when the animal's food source is scarce.
Several other animals have been specially recognized by the state of Alaska, although the moose is the most widely known and is the official state animal of Alaska. The state marine mammal of Alaska is the bow head whale. Various species of birds are also indigenous to Alaska, with the willow ptarmigan being the state's official bird. The Alaskan malamute, with its thick dense coat and ability to pull racing sleds, is the state's official dog breed. The king salmon is Alaska's state fish and it is abundant in many ponds and streams.
Very few American states have designated official state insects, though Alaska has. The state insect of Alaska is the four spot skimmer dragonfly, which is commonly seen during the warm summer months. These insects, which are found in Alaska and other areas in North America, are often referred to as 12-spot skimmers.