Family members watching a bull moose from a window of their Laramie, Wyoming, cabin got the surprise of their lives when suddenly one of the antlers dropped into the snow.
"The moose shook his head and his paddle fell off right in front of us," Kim Eberhart told National Geographic. "It was amazing."
Eberhart's uncle shot the video on Nov. 27, 2015 and shared the rare moment with National Geographic, which posted it online this week:
"He's in pain, he's crying," a woman is heard saying in the video. "Poor guy."
Eberhart told National Geographic that the moose looked "a little scared and stunned and was shaking his head and made a really mournful sound afterwards."
But moose biologist Bill Samuel of the University of Alberta told National Geographic that the moose wasn't in pain but "likely experienced a sense of relief," adding that moose shed their antlers every year and the process is thought to be painless.
Samuel also said witnessing the moment is quite rare.
It’s worth nothing that bull moose shed their antlers after mating to conserve energy for the winter and grow a new set in the spring.
"Usually both antlers are shed within hours or days of one another," author Art Rodgers writes in the book Moose. "Bulls will occasionally try to speed up completion of the process by knocking the old antlers against trees to shed them.”…
Samuel says bull moose typically lose their antlers between mid-December and the end of January. Older bulls are known to shed earlier, although the moose in the video looks like a younger adult, he notes.
Still, Samuel says he isn't that surprised to find a moose dropping an antler earlier given the range of variability in nature.
In the video, National Geographic also revealed a fact some might be surprised to learn: That squirrels, mice and other animals eat the antlers.