Is it an elk or a moose? In Sweden, the answer is both! While in North America, Alces alces is a beautiful woodland inhabitant known as a moose, whereas in Europe, it is known as an elk. To make matters even more complicated, in North America, the term “elk” refers to a completely different species, a type of deer.
Moose and elk are magnificent creatures that are related to deer. These creatures are famous for their enormous size and gigantic antlers. Although moose and elk appear to be the same species, they are not.
Moose and elk are two distinct animals that share many characteristics. As a result, identifying them correctly might be difficult.
Main Differences Between Elk and Moose
The moose is the most prominent member of the deer family. Female and male moose may grow up to 2.1 meters tall and weigh between 1,200 and 1,800 pounds.
Elk, like moose, is also a member of the deer species in North America. Female and male elk may grow up to 1.5 meters tall and weigh between 500 to 700 pounds.
Male moose antlers may span more than four feet, some reaching over six feet for the most influential males. At the same time, male elk can grow their antlers for about four feet.
Because the Moose lives in colder climates, its coat is thicker than that of other deer species. They have a dark brown hue to them. Their physique is quite broad, and their nose drops.
There is also a skin flap that falls freely from the chin. In comparison, Elk has winter coats of long, thick, waterproof guard hairs that cover a dense woolly underfur. The summer coat of an elk is made up of short, stiff, and sparse hairs.
Moose can be typically found in North America, Canada, Russia, and Europe. An elk is a native species in North America and Eastern Asian countries.
The Behavior Difference Between Elk and Moose
Moose are not inherently hostile towards humans, although they can become aggressive when threatened. Humans may believe that the moose will not hurt them and therefore tempt the animal to attack.
If one encounters a moose, it is preferable to preserve as much distance as possible. If a moose becomes hostile, people should flee; moose do not regard humans as a food source and will not follow suit.
Elk are protective parents to their calves and will attack humans who come too close. Keep your distance and strive for 50 yards between you and them at all times. Back away gently if an elk approaches you. Allow the animal to pass by, giving it some space.
The Antler Difference Between Elk and Moose
Antlers are a distinguishing characteristic of several deer species, including moose and elk.
Moose have antlers that serve as a symbol of their strength during mating season. They lose their antlers in early winter when the temperature is low enough and regenerate a new set in the spring, unlike many other animals that grow permanent horns.
The new rack of antlers grows during the summer. The developing antlers are coated in velvet throughout this phase of antler development. Velvet is a fuzzy layer of thick skin that contains blood veins that provide nutrients to the growing antlers.
When the antlers are completely formed and ready to calcify, the bull moose, as males are known, sheds the velvet naturally. Their antlers weigh approximately 40 pounds.
Elk have antlers that serve as a kind of protection from other males during mating season. Their antlers are coated in velvet, a soft covering that peels off by late summer when the antlers stiffen. After the previous set of antlers is lost, the formation of new antlers begins.
Because an elk antler develops faster than any other tissue in the animal’s body, a healthy bull may grow approximately one inch of antler every single day, resulting in a fully formed pair of antlers within a few months. The antlers are solid bone by the end of September and can weigh up to 40 pounds.
The Hoof Difference Between Elk and Moose
Moose are known for their big and pointed hooves. The moose’s pointed hooves can be ascribed to the fact that, unlike elk, moose do not move much. The tracks will take the shape of extended hearts due to the sharp ends of the hooves.
As stated, moose are heavier than elk, thus their tracks will be deeper than those of the elk.
Elk are herd animals that move in groups, thus the trace would include prints from a herd of elk. Elk may be spotted going over 100 miles down the mountains in search of food and habitat as winter approaches. During the early spring, these elk return to the heights.
Elk have broad and rounded hooves that enable them to cover such great distances due to their migratory habit. Elk are not as hefty as moose. They leave a smaller footprint than moose. Another important aspect of elk is that they move in herds, unlike moose that move individually, which may be identified by the traces they leave behind.
Key Similarities of Elk and Moose
There are also similarities between these animals. Elk and moose both exhibit high levels of aggressiveness. Many factors can upset and irritate them, including being challenged by dogs, traffic, hungry or weary, and, most significantly, when humans go too close to them.
Moose and elk, contrary to popular belief, are superb swimmers. In fact, they can both swim within a few days of being born. In the wild, moose and elk can be spotted swimming across nearby islands in pursuit of better feeding grounds and for other reasons.
Both the moose and the elk are herbivorous animals whose diets fluctuate with the seasons. Though they are both herbivorous, they forage and feed in different ways.
Elk, like moose, have a similar eating pattern. Elk, unlike moose, spend the majority of their time eating in the mornings and nights. Elks, like ruminants, require rest after eating in the morning and evening to allow the meal to digest.
Moose and elk require a high salt intake in their diet. As a result, they dive below to find aquatic plants that are rich in water. It’s important to remember that, while they’re great swimmers, they’re still mammals and can’t breathe underwater.
As a result, they plunge into the water while holding their breath and shutting their noses with an unique membrane.
Mating Season Difference Between Elk and Moose
Moose breeding season lasts from September through October. Males that show to be the strongest are allowed to move in and mate with many females.
These attempts can be taxing, though, because he must first establish to the other guys that he is dominant. Then he needs to go out and find the females, who might be rather dispersed.
The noises of male Moose calling to females may be heard from a considerable distance away.
He will keep calling until a female answers, and he has located her. Once he has mated with her, he will continue his search for other partners.
The baby Moose will be born around eight months after fertilization. What’s fascinating is that if there’s enough food available, she’s pretty likely to have twins.
She will only eat one if there is just enough food or if there isn’t enough. For over two years, the children live with their moms.
The majority of what we know about Moose contact comes from the mother caring for her young. That is a duty she takes extremely seriously, and she will go to any length to ensure the survival of her children.
The rut is the mating season of elk, which occurs throughout the fall. The bulls herd the herds of cows and calves into harems, which they fiercely protect. Bulls will fight to the death over a harem.
The bulls bugle at the cows to attract them and claim their area. Bulls may also wallow in mud to coat themselves with “perfume” to attract cows, and they will brush trees, bushes, and the ground with their antlers to attract cows and frighten other bulls in the vicinity.
Typically, calves are born in late May to early June, but they spend the first several weeks hiding immobile while their moms eat. Until the young bulls are mature enough to be put out on their own, the calves and cows remain in herds together.
These herds are commanded by an experienced elk, known as the lead cow, which protects the herd and steers it between seasonal areas.