The animal kingdom is filled with beauty.
Be it the abundance of beautiful flora and fauna or the complicated yet interesting world of animals, there is a lot to look forward to.
And such is the beauty of this world that even though there are millions of animals on Earth, there are hardly any two species that resemble each other so much that they can be confused between each other.
That said, there are two majestic animals, belonging to the deer family that is often mistaken for each other – elk and moose.
Both these animals are known for their huge size and massive antlers. And even though look similar to each other, they are not the same.
Both moose and elk might be two different species, there is a lot in common that makes it difficult for people to differentiate between them.
Elk Vs Moose Comparison Guide
|Size||5 feet in length and 5.5 feet tall||8 feet in length and 6.5 feet tall|
|Speeds||40-60 mph||35-45 mph|
|Shape of Hooves||Blunt and smooth hooves||Pointed hooves|
|Shape of Antlers||Spindly and pointed antlers with many points protruding from the main branch||Large and flat antlers|
|Are they good swimmers?||Average swimmers||Strong yet slow swimmers|
|Easier to hunt?||Elks avoid humans and are relatively difficult to hunt||Moose are slow and therefore easier to hunt|
|How hunters identify them?||By their narrow tracks. About 1.8 to 2.5 inches.||By their tracks. About 4 inches wide|
|Natural habitat||Parks and foothills||Near lakes and rivers with abundant vegetation|
|Average Body Weight||147 to 500kg||350 to 600kg|
|Adapted to live in extreme winters||Yes||Yes|
|Lifespan||10 to 15 years||15 to 25 years|
|Conservation status||Least Concern||Least Concern|
|Found in wild||Yes||Yes|
However, their antlers give it away for them. The shape of their antlers is what separates them and is the means of identifying between the two.
While moose has large and flat antlers that can grow as big as 6ft between the two tips, elks have elongated antlers that are branched from different ends. Moose are also usually bigger in size than elks.
The difference between the two animals is not restricted to just their physical appearance. Their habitat, diet, and behavior also differ.
But because they belong to the same family of deers, they are often confused between each other and people tend to treat them according to their popular image.
In this article, we will tell you everything about the difference between the two, their physical difference, and how they differ in their habitat, diet, and behavior.
Moose vs elk: Their appearance
One of the biggest reasons why moose and elks are confused is because they look quite similar. The only difference is in their antlers and the color of their fur.
Elk vs Moose Size
Moose are the larger ones between the two. They can grow up to 6.5 ft and weigh up to 350 kgs on average.
Moose have also been seen displaying a lower degree of sexual dimorphism (dimorphism is high in species where the male tends to be a lot bigger, stronger, and heavier than females).
While a male moose can weigh between 350 to 600 kgs, the females are not too far behind weighing between 270 to 400 kgs.
Elks, on the other hand, are not as tall as moose. They can grow up to 4 to 5 ft tall and weigh anything between 150 to 400 kgs.
What often confuses people about the size of the two is that a bull elk can have their antlers grow as tall as 4 ft, making them look a lot bigger.
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However, their original body size is smaller than that of the moose. Even elks display a low degree of sexual dimorphism and there isn’t too much difference between male elk and female elk.
Elk vs Moose Antlers
The antlers of these two animals are the most striking part that not only sets them apart but also enables the onlookers to differentiate between them. And unlike their overall appearance, their antlers are quite different from each other.
Moose have long, flat and strong antlers that can be as big as 6 ft from the edges and can be used as powerful weapons to defend themselves.
But that is not the only things moose use their antlers for. The main aim of these gigantic antlers on a male’s head is to show their dominance and extravagance to attract their mate.
These antlers are put on display by the male moose during the mating season. And just like many other animals who expose their bodies to attract their mate, bull moose also display their antlers to let the females choose them for mating.
Apart from this lovely display of their natural growth, moose also use their antlers to forage underwater food.
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Mature Bull Moose Fun Fact
Mature bull moose grow their antlers during spring and summer and usually shed them during winters. The size of their antlers tells a lot about their health and age.
While the antlers are usually used for mating display, foraging food, and defending themselves, they also help moose to hear rather well.
Moose are able to rotate their ears quite well, but the shape of their antlers is such that they act as amplifiers and increase the intensity of the sound received by their ears.
The antlers create a stereophonic system for their ears making them hear sounds from a long distance. A recent study revealed that their antlers can amplify the sound for up to 20 percent.
The antlers in an elk are quite different from moose, especially in shape. Their antlers are elongated and there are several points that protrude from the main branch.
The shape and appearance of an elk’s antlers might be different, but they serve the same purpose as moose’s antlers do. Even elks grow and shed their antlers at the same time.
This process takes place during summer when the testosterone levels in both moose and elks are at their lowest. So, the bone that connects the antlers with their heads deteriorates considerably and thus the antlers fall off.
Did You Know?
About 800 moose inhabit the southern part of Yellowstone National Park!
Elk vs Moose Hooves
Just like the antlers, the two animals have differently shaped hooves too. The moose have large hooves that are pointy at the end and can be attributed to the fact that moose don’t migrate a lot. Their footprints are quite unique thanks to their heart-shaped hooves.
This makes it easy to identify their movements. And since these animals are quite heavy, their footmarks are also quite deeply embedded on the ground.
An elk’s hooves are different from that of a moose. Because elks migrate a lot – they usually travel down from high mountains to the lower grounds in search of food and habitat during the winters and travel all the way back up when the spring season begins.
This means that they travel hundreds of miles every year. This is the reason why their hooves are long and rounded so that they are able to walk such long distances on treacherous landscapes with ease. Elks always travel in herds and there are hundreds of them walking together during their migratory season.
The hooves are one of the most essential ways of identifying and differentiating between the two animals.
Elk vs Moose Fur
Both moose and elks have a similar kind of fur which is thick and warm. Their fur is in the shape of a honeycomb that allows them to jump inside water in search of food without the water remaining in the fur for a long time.
The only difference in the fur between the two animals is that a moose’s fur can be both light brown and dark brown in color, while that of an elk is almost black.
Elk vs Moose – who is more aggressive?
Both moose and elks can get extremely aggressive in nature when presented with situations they don’t like.
This could be anything from being confronted by other wild animals, close proximity with humans, tiredness, or hunger. But their aggressive behavior hasn’t been reported to have impacted anyone dangerously. The best thing to do when confronted with an angry moose or an elk is to leave them alone.
Elk vs Moose food – what do they eat?
Both are herbivores!
Moose eat large quantities of willow, birch, and aspen twigs. Whereas Elk prefers aster, dandelions, grasses, forbs, hawkweed, and clover.
Fun Fact About Elks
- Elks are the loudest members of the Deer family.
- Elks can run up to 40 miles per hour.
- Elks can jump up to 8 feet vertically.
Fun Fact About Moose
- Bull moose shed their antlers each year.
- Moose can swim up to 10 miles nonstop.
- The biggest moose weigh more than 1,800 lbs.
Frequently asked questions about Elk vs Moose
What is the most distinguishing feature that differentiates elk and moose?
The most significant difference between moose and elk is their antlers. While moose have huge, flat antlers, elk’s feature pointed antlers with protrusions coming out from the base. Apart from the appearance, their antlers perform pretty much similar functions including defense, mating display, and foraging.
Considering their big size, can moose and elks swim?
Contrary to the belief, both moose and elks are excellent swimmers. In fact, the newborn babies of both moose and elks are able to swim within a few days after their birth. One of the most important food that both these animals consume are aquatic plants that are high in sodium. And they must know swimming well in order to be able to reach those plants. It is also believed that due to their slender legs, moose and elks stand in water to relieve stress. It is also a great way of evading predators.
Which amongst the two is bigger – moose or elk?
Moose are bigger than elks in size and heavier as well. While elks can grow up to 4-5 ft in size and 150-400 kgs, moose often grow till 6.5 ft in size and grow up to 600 kgs.