Difference Between Elk vs Deer

Difference Between Elk vs Deer

Have you come across the word “cervidae” before? It is a term that describes a family of ruminants characterized by powerful antlers which are basically extensions of their skulls made of fibrous tissue, bone, cartilage, blood vessels, nerves, and skin. Aside from this feature, they also have other characteristics that are unique to each of the 43 different species of these hoofed creatures.

In this post, we would limit our scope to the difference between elk and deer. These are two of the most common species of these hoofed mammals. More often than not, they are confused for the other because of their striking physical resemblance. But when observed in detail, one can see how they are different.

Definition of Elk

Elk is defined as a mammal that belongs to the Cervidae family and characterized by a broad build, herding, gender segregation, and matriarchy. They move together in large groups of 200 to 400 of them at the same time, which is why they are classified as social animals.

On closer observation, one would see that the females stay together and away from the males who stay together as well, all in the same group. Despite the segregation, they are all led by one female. This is one of the obvious disparities in the deer vs elk seeing as the former is patriarchal.

When it is mating season, these mammals are seen in even smaller groups of about five to six females, their yearlings, and a dominant male who is charged with the responsibility of protecting every member of the group and defending their territory until the mating season is over.

The female, otherwise known as a cow, can only deliver one offspring (also known as calves) at a time, and it takes a period of six months from inception to delivery. The male adults are known as bulls.

Definition of Deer

A deer is defined as a member of the cervidae family characterized by small tails, compact torsos, and slender legs. This definition is the most suitable for this family of animals because there are about 43 different species of them, and they are all referred to as deer sometimes.

However, a particular specie is known as the reindeer, and from what we have deduced, this particular specie is what people refer to when they talk about deer.

One interesting fact in the elk vs deer comparison is that the latter is the only carvidae in which both genders grow antlers. They fall off and grow back annually as the seasons change.

You can hardly ever find just one deer at a time. They are social animals that live in groups of at least ten to as much as a couple of hundred of them at a time. The females can only give birth to one baby at a time after a gestation period of 7.5 months. The babies weigh about 5kg at birth. They are breastfed until about six months, after which they have to depend on only solid foods.

Main Differences Between Elk vs Deer

Basis of ComparisonElkDeer
Definition A mammal that belongs to the Cervidae family and characterized by a broad build, herding, gender segregation, and matriarchyA member of the Cervidae family characterized by small tails, compact torsos, and slender legs
Scientific nameCervus CanadensisCervidae
Body structureHard physique flooringSoft physique flooring
Common locationNorth America East Asia
Coat Shaggy brown coatEven grey coat
Sound Very loudNot as loud but high pitched
Life span Average of 12 yearsAverage of 20 years
Habitat Resides at the mountain top during summer and in the snow during summerLives in just about anywhere
Speed Up to 45 miles per hour30 miles per hour
Antlers About 4 feetMostly less than 4 feet
Average weight 300kg500kg

Difference Between Elk and Deer: Conclusion

In summary, the difference between deer and elk still abounds despite belonging to the same taxonomical family. When asked, a lot of hunters confirmed that one of the most common ways they can tell these two apart is by the print of their hooves. The former makes heart-shaped marks while the latter leaves tooth-shaped tracks