Elk vs Moose: Brief Comparison 2023

Have you ever wondered what the differences between elk and moose are? With similar antlers, size, and appearance, it cannot be easy to distinguish between them. Both of the deer family members are some of North America’s largest mammals. Still, there are differences in their body proportions, behavioral patterns, and habitats that make them unique. This blog post will take an in-depth look at elk vs moose and how they compare and contrast.

Elk vs Moose

Elk and Moose

A brief comparison between elk and moose can be made on essential features such as body size, habitat, diet, and behavior.

Body Size

Elk are usually giant than moose in size. Adult males typically weigh between 500-900 pounds, whereas adult female elk weigh about half of that. Moose tend to be significantly heavier than elk, with adult males weighing between 800-1,500 pounds and adult female moose weighing between 500-800 pounds.


Elk typically inhabit many habitats, including mountains, foothills, meadows, marshes, and forests, while moose prefer boreal coniferous and wetland habitats.


Both elk and moose are herbivores and feed on grasses, leaves, buds, twigs, aquatic vegetation, and pine needles.


Elk are generally more social than moose and can be seen in herds of several dozen animals throughout the year. Moose tend to be more solitary than elk but may form small groups during certain times of the year.

Fur And Antlers

Elk have a thin coat of short brown fur, while moose have long, dark-brown hair. Both animals also have antlers that grow from the tops of their heads and shed them each year. However, elk antlers are more palmated (broadly rounded) and have more points than moose.


Elk have long; slim hooves well-adapted for running and navigating mountainous terrain. Moose have wide-splayed hooves that are well-adapted to walking on soft, wet areas like bogs and swamps.

Overall, elk and moose vary in essential features such as body size, habitat, diet, and behavior, making them distinct species. However, they both share many similar traits, including their herbivorous diets and preference for habitats with plenty of vegetation.

Types Of Elk

Three Elks sitting in snow

Rocky Mountain Elk 

The largest of all elk, the Rocky Mountain elk, can be found in western North America and is the most common elk species. They have light to dark brown fur, a tan head and neck, white patches on their rump, and a distinctive yellowish-brown patch around the nose. Rocky Mountain elk are known for their bugling call, which attracts mates during the mating season.

Roosevelt Elk

Found in the Pacific Northwest of North America, the Roosevelt elk is the second largest species and can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. They have dark brown fur, a grayish-brown head and neck, and white patches on their rump. They also have a distinct bugling call, but it is much softer than the Rocky Mountain elk.

Tule Elk 

The smallest elk, tule elk, are native to California, Nevada, and Oregon. They have light brown fur, a white rump, and a yellowish-brown patch around the nose. They are known for their low bugling call and can often be found in open meadows or grasslands during the summer.

Manitoban Elk 

Found only in Manitoba, Canada, this elk is similar to the Rocky Mountain elk but has slightly darker fur. They have a light brown to dark brown body with white patches on their rump and a yellowish-brown patch around the nose. The Manitoban elk is also known for its bugling call, but it is less powerful than the Rocky Mountain elk.

European Elk

Found in central Europe, this elk is the smallest of the European species. It has light brown to dark brown fur, white patches on its rump, and a distinctive yellowish-brown patch around the nose. They have a low bugling call, but it is not as loud as other elk species.

All five elk species are a vital part of the North American and European ecosystems, providing food for predators like wolves and bears. They also provide essential habitats for other wildlife species, such as birds, deer, and smaller mammals.

Elk are an integral part of the landscape and deserve our respect and protection. We should all take steps to conserve these iconic animals to ensure their populations remain healthy and robust.

Types Of Moose

moose in forest

Moose is a large species of antlered deer found throughout the northern hemisphere. Depending on where they live, moose come in several different varieties. The most common types of moose include:

Alces Alces (Eurasian or European Moose)

This is the largest and heaviest living deer species, weighing up to 1,800 lbs. They are found in northern Europe and Asia.

Alces Americanus (North American Moose)

This is the largest land mammal on the continent, weighing up to 1600 lbs. It is found in Canada and the northern United States.

Rangifer Tarandus (Caribou or Reindeer) 

This species is found in northern Europe and Asia, Alaska, Canada, Iceland and Russia.

Moose are an essential part of many ecosystems and provide a valuable food source for predators. They also have unique adaptations, such as long legs to help them traverse deep snow, large antlers to defend against predators, and thick fur to help them stay warm in cold climates. As a result, moose populations need to be protected and managed to ensure their health and survival.

Elk vs Moose Antlers

Elk and moose both have impressive antlers, but some key differences exist. Elk antlers tend to be much larger than moose, with the average elk boasting about five-point racks that spread almost two feet wide. The large size of elk antlers makes them more imposing and can even provide added protection against predators.

Moose antlers, on the other hand, tend to be more compact and typically only grow four-point racks with a spread of about two feet. Moose antlers are ideal for defending against other male moose during mating season. Unlike elk, their antlers don’t have as much of an intimidating presence and could be better at protecting against predators.

Elk antlers also grow and shed faster than those moose. A bull elk will begin to grow its antlers in the spring and will be fully grown by fall. Moose, however, take much longer to develop their antlers, with some reaching total growth in winter. This means that moose antlers are often more weathered and worn than those of an elk.

Finally, elk and moose antlers also differ in terms of their hardness. Moose antlers are usually much more complex than those of an elk, making them better suited for fighting off predators and competing with other moose. Elk antlers, on the other hand, are much softer and don’t provide as much protection.

Though both animals have impressive racks of antlers, elk and moose antlers differ in size, growth rate, hardness, and utility. While elk antlers are larger and can provide an intimidating presence, moose antlers are more compact and harder, making them better suited to defend themselves against predators. In the end, both animals have impressive sets of antlers that they use to their advantage.


Q: What is the difference in size between elk and moose? 

A: Elk are typically much larger than moose. The average elk stands around 4-5 feet at the shoulder, while moose generally are between 5-7 feet tall. Adult elk can weigh up to 700 pounds, while moose can weigh 1,500 pounds.

Q: What is the difference in diet between elk and moose? 

A: Elk and moose both feed on grasses, herbs, shrubs, mosses, and bark. However, the diet of elk is generally more diverse than moose. Moose mainly concentrate on aquatic plants such as pondweed and water lilies, while elk also eat various fruits, mushrooms and nuts in addition to plants.

Q: Where can elk and moose be found? 

A: Moose are native to North America, Europe, and Asia. Elk are most commonly found in northern regions of Canada and the United States, stretching south into Mexico. Additionally, some elk populations have been introduced in parts of South America and New Zealand.


In this article, we discussed the differences between elk and moose antlers. We explored how their sizes, growth rates, hardness, and utility differ. Additionally, we looked at their diets and habitats. Both have impressive antlers that they use for various purposes, whether for protection against predators or competing with other males during mating season.

Ultimately, both animals have unique and impressive sets of antlers that help them survive in their respective environments.

Junaid Swati

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