Moose Antler Velvet Shedding: Does It Hurt? Discover the Truth

Did you ever ponder if moose antler velvet shedding causes discomfort to the animal? Surprisingly, the answer is no.

The shedding process does not inflict pain on moose or other deer species.

Actually, some speculate that the velvet might provoke an itch, prompting the animal to scratch it against trees or other surfaces to remove it accurately.

Moose have a distinctive characteristic among animals with horns, as they shed their antlers annually.

The process involves the removal of long strips of velvet skin on the antlers. Some may question whether moose feel discomfort during this natural process.

However, to comprehend the reason for this antler shedding, a deeper understanding of moose biology and that of other deer is necessary.

It is essential to have a deep understanding of shed biology and the necessity of antlers. To fully comprehend antlers, we need to learn about their structure and function.

Example of moose antler velvet shedding while in the forrest.

Related Reading: Will You See Moose Come Out in the Rain?

The Purpose of Antlers

To start, it’s important to understand why deer and moose grow antlers instead of horns.

Many animals grow horns on their heads, such as:

  • Cattle
  • Sheep
  • Goats.

Cattle, sheep, and goats grow horns as weapons to defend against predators. Unlike deer, their horns serve a different purpose.

Although antlers are commonly considered a defensive tool against predators, their primary function is attracting potential mates.

The size and grandeur of a male’s antlers directly correlate with their likelihood of successfully finding a female partner.

In addition, male moose and other deer species have been known to engage in headbutting to assert their dominance and social status within their community.

During mating season, male moose and other deer family members may engage in headbutting to establish dominance.

Nonetheless, when faced with danger, all types of deer have been observed to use their front hooves to kick, rather than rear up.

Male deer have favored kicking with their front hooves rather than rearing up.

Antlers serve the primary purpose of attracting mates and are not necessary outside of mating season.

This results in the shedding of antlers for moose during December.

Related Reading: Do Moose Have Ivory Teeth? [NO, IT’S MADE OF THIS]

Moose Antlers Growth

We can understand more about how antlers are shed if we understand how they are created – especially how they differ from regular horns.

This will help better comprehend moose antler velvet shedding.

Horns consist mainly of bone and are covered by a thin layer of keratin, which is also present in human hair and nails. They are permanently affixed to the animal’s skull.

Antlers, however, are much different; they are made from a multitude of different components, including:

  • Bone
  • Fibrous tissues
  • Cartilage
  • Nerves
  • Blood Vessels
  • Skin

They are like new body extensions that can be shed each year, not attached to the skull.

Antlers, which are bony structures, develop within the skin of a moose’s head. The skin is covered in short and soft hairs, giving it a velvety appearance.

This growth process typically begins in April and lasts for several months, during which the velvet remains attached to the antlers.

Antlers develop in accordance with testosterone levels, and during the mating season in September, they shed their velvet and harden.

With each passing year, the antlers become increasingly impressive until the bulls reach their prime at the age of 10.

Afterward, their antlers begin to diminish in size.

Moose antlers can grow to be quite heavy, weighing up to 60 pounds in their largest size.

To conserve energy during the winter months when food is scarce, they shed their weight annually.

Moose antler velvet shedding is necessary for its survival.

These magnificent creatures can be found in the far North of North America, Asia, and Europe, where food can be scarce during the winter season.

Related Topic: All About Moose-Antlers

Moose Antler Velvet Shedding: Painless Process

People might wonder if the antler is filled with things that might hurt when rubbed. Does it have the following?

  • Blood vessels
  • Nerves
  • Skin

 Then why does it not hurt moose to shed it?

The truth is that at first, it does seem to; members of the deer family have been spotted being incredibly careful with their antlers during spring when the bones are still growing underneath the skin.

It has been seen that moose will avoid low-hanging branches and bumping their antlers into things, and it has been seen that during the velvet stage, if the antlers are bumped, they will bleed.

Having such a rich blood supply means that antlers are some of the fastest-growing tissues, with experts noting up to eight inches of growth in around nine days.

Once antlers reach their full size, the blood supply to them ceases and nerves stop responding as they did before.

The antler bones then harden and the velvet covering them becomes increasingly itchy.

This itchiness prompts moose antler velvet shedding to relieve the itching.

In December, osteoclasts cause the breakdown of the cells that connect antlers to the skull, leading to their detachment during winter.

Subsequently, osteoblasts facilitate their regrowth in the ensuing spring.

Despite the similarity in their names, these cells play contrasting roles in relation to the antlers.

Continue Reading: How Big Are Moose Compared to Humans?


In reference to moose antler velvet shedding, they typically do not feel any pain.

This is due to the unique internal composition of antlers, which are comprised of growing bone and are surrounded by a nourishing skin called velvet.

This velvet appears furry to the touch. In contrast to horns, antlers grow atop the moose’s skull, enabling them to shed without causing any discomfort to the animal.

During spring, moose antlers grow and harden. The skin, which covers the antlers, loses sensitivity and becomes itchy.

The moose then rubs its antlers against different objects to scrape off the velvet harmlessly.

So, please don’t worry about the moose having any pain during the process. This is all part of nature and ensures the moose will find a suitable mate.

Enjoy living the outdoor life!!!