Difference Between Moose and Elk (With Table)

Since both moose and elk belong to the deer family, it is hard for most people to tell the difference between a moose and an elk. Also because moose is the larger and more well-known of the two species, some people may be unaware that the elk even exists!

Furthermore, the names of these creatures change in different nations. For example, in certain Nations in Europe, such as Sweden, Alces (the moose) is mistakenly referred to as an elk. As a result, the presence of regions and nations varied slightly. Despite the many misunderstandings, science can distinguish them correctly. The main distinctions between a moose and an elk are highlighted in this article.

Moose vs Elk

The difference between a moose and elk is that moose are tanned-brownish and appear practically black when not noticed distinctly, and they are bigger than elks, which are light brown with pale yellow rumps and abdomens and enormous horns. The palmate antlers of a moose are broader and larger than that of an elk. Furthermore, the moose seems to have a protruding snout (which is more prominent in males), which is not seen in elks.

The moose (Alces alces) is the biggest representative of the Cervidae group of deer. The enormous, broad, flattened antlers of old males, as well as their imposing stature, black color, long legs, drooping snout, and hanging hairy scent gland (called a bell), make moose stand out. The antlers are the best way to tell the difference between a moose and an elk. The antlers of moose are enormous and welded together during the middle, giving them this almost open-palm appearance. Antlers of this form are known as “palmate” horns.

Elk (Cervus elaphus genus), commonly known as a wapiti, is one of the biggest and most advanced subspecies of red deer (Cervus elaphus), which can be found in North America and Eastern Asia’s highest highlands. It belongs to the Cervidae family of deer (order Artiodactyla). According to modern genetic investigations, the “red deer” might be one of 3 species: European red deer, Tibetan–West Chinese red deer, or elk.

In terms of biology, elks are similar to red deer. They are, nevertheless, better adapted to wide plains living, pasture, and harsh, lengthy winters. They developed as quick long-distance runners who, even with the greatest horses, are tough to catch, especially on broken topography. Nonetheless, they form huge groups to defend themselves from attackers.

Comparison Table Between Moose and Elks

Parameters of ComparisonMooseElk
Appearance1. The moose is the heaviest of the deer species. Males are easily identified by their massive antlers, which may stretch up to 6 feet in length. 
2. Moose have harnesses that hang over their jawline and have lengthy faces. A bell-shaped flap of flesh sways below each moose’s neck.
1. Elks have a distinctive buff colored rear and fluctuate in hue from brownish in the cold to tan in the summertime. 
2. The rear and sides are lighter than the face, neck, belly, and legs.
Scientific NameAlces americanusCervus canadensis
HabitatMoose are restricted to frigid areas due to their huge size and protective hair. Moose thrive in forested regions with waterways.They can be found in Pacific coast conifer rain forests, prairies, aspen parklands, sagebrush plains, and eastern deciduous woods.
Nature of LivingMoose prefer solitary movement and usually stay solo.Elks move in packs and graze together.
Physique PointersMoose have pointed hooves.They leave deeper track marks.Moose have bigger and broader horns.Elks have blunt hooves.Leave lighter and shallower track marks.Horns are shorter and combined.

What is Moose?

Moose are the biggest deer species and have evolved to a wide range of environments. Willows beside rivers and streams are their favorite. However, many moose dwell in the same habitats as elk, which includes larch pine, oak brush, poplar, juniper, fir, and even grasslands. Moose may be found virtually anywhere in Colorado’s high terrain.

Moose have tan to deep brown fur that is thick enough just to cover them up throughout the cold, wintry months. Only males that get antlers are the, often known as “bulls.” Females have such a lesser trot, whereas bulls have a lengthy, hair-covered waddle extending from their necks or chins. They also have long nostrils and a big, bulbous nose.

Moose are generally placid creatures who very occasionally turn violent. If attacked, they will defend themselves, and males might get more agitated during the breeding season. The most typical “aggressive” activity is feigning to charge, which allows them to stay safe without having to fight.

Moose can reach speeds of up to 35-40 mph and can gallop for 32 kilometers in under an hour. Moose, considering their weight and size, are strong swimmers. They can swim over several kilometers and could even immerse themselves in the waters for up to 30 seconds. The worldwide moose number is believed to be around 2 million, with Canada having the highest number.

What is Elk?

Elk (Cervus Canadensis), commonly known as the ‘Wapiti’, is among the biggest deer subspecies in the Cervidae group and one of the biggest land mammals in North America, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.

It is sometimes mistaken with the bigger Alces alces, which is known in America as moose but is known in American English as elk. Cervus Canadensis is referred to as “Wapiti” in European countries. Wapiti, which means ‘white rump’ in Cherokee and Cree, is the source of the name.

Elk may contract a variety of infectious illnesses, which can also be passed on to cattle. Immunization efforts to eradicate infectious illnesses from elk herds have had mixed results. Elk are revered in certain cultures as having mystical importance.

Antlers and their velvet are utilized in traditional therapies in areas of Asia. Elk are a game animal that may be hunted. Compared to beef or chicken, its flesh is leaner and richer in protein.

Elk are big creatures. Males attain adulthood weighing approximately 700 pounds and standing 5 feet in length and 8 feet tall. Females are shorter and average just 500 pounds. Elks have a shaggy brown jacket that becomes thicker as the season progresses. At this period, males also develop a thick mat of hair around their necks. Elks have big, round, and drooping nostrils.

Main Differences Between Moose and Elk

  1. Moose are larger when compared to elks which are shorter and lighter in weight as well.
  2. Moose travel and stay solitary whereas elks usually are found in packs and groups.
  3. Moose have pointed hooves whereas elks have blunt and smooth hooves.
  4. The scientific name of the moose is Alces americanus whereas the scientific name of the elk is Cervus Canadensis.
  5. Moose are great swimmers and have a bigger hoof span than the elks which are comparably average swimmers with smaller hooves.

Conclusion

Both moose and elks are docile creatures found in the wild. They are from the deer family with large body postures and are considered the largest herbivores on land. Elks are a less frequent species than moose. When confronted by people, moose and elk behave differently. Elks usually flee when they see humans, but moose are less inclined to escape and defend themselves similar to bulls.

Both the creatures are good in the water but moose can swim better and faster than elks. Being bulkier and heftier also their solitary nature can sometimes get moose into trouble when getting chased by packs of predators.

References

  1. https://www.britannica.com/animal/elk-mammal
  2. https://www.yourdictionary.com/moose
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