Difference Between Elk and Moose

The main difference between elk and moose is that elk has long brow tines, distinct main beam and points in its antlers whereas moose has palmated antlers, and tines protruded from the edges.

Elk and moose are two of the biggest types of deer. Deer live all over the world except Australia and Antarctica. Moose is the biggest and the most popular deer. Elk is the second largest deer. Males of both elk and moose are called bulls while their females are called cows. Moose have a dark blackish brown body with lighter white-gray legs. Elk have a reddish to light brown body and dark legs.

Key Areas Covered

1. Elk
     – Definition, Characteristics
2. Moose
    – Definition, Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Elk and Moose
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Elk and Moose
    – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Antlers, Coat Color, Elk, Habitat, Moose, SizeDifference Between Elk and Moose - Comparison Summary

Elk – Definition, Characteristics

Elk is a large deer with brownish-red fur and large antlers that lives in the forests of North America. It is also called wapiti in Europe. Elk lives in mountainous forests in North America and East Asia. It can live in desert and semi-desert areas in America as well. Around 1000 individuals can be found in their herds. 

Main Difference - Elk vs Moose

Figure: Elk

Shaggy necks are one of the major characteristics of the elk. The color and thickness of the elk’s coat depend on the climate. In general, they have dark necks and pale rumps. The sound of the male elk is a loud and high-pitched bugle.

Moose – Definition, Characteristics

Moose refers to the largest extant species of deer with broad, flat antlers. In Europe, moose is called elk. Moose prefer to live in temperate forests and cool climates. Hence, they are found in the Northern areas of America, Canada, and Alaska. They also live in some of the regions of China and Russia. 

Difference Between Elk and Moose

Figure 2: Moose

The two characteristic features of moose are the flat, wide antlers and the strange-looking, bulky face. The coat color of the moose is generally blackish brown.

Similarities Between Elk and Moose

  • Elk and moose are the biggest types of deer.
  • Both belong to the family Cervidae.
  • Both are ruminant mammals.
  • Male elk and moose have antlers.
  • They both can live in moderate climates.
  • Male elk and moose are called bulls while their females are called cows.
  • They are both hunted for their meat and antlers.

Difference Between Elk and Moose


Elk: A large deer with brownish-red fur and large antlers that lives in the forests of North America

Moose: Largest extant species of deer with broad, flat antlers

Scientific Name

Elk: Cervus canadensis

Moose: Alces alces


Elk: Native to North America and Eastern Asia

Moose: Found mainly in Canada and Alaska; also concentrated in New England, Latvia, Estonia, Scandinavia, Fennoscandia, and Russia


Elk: 500-1,300 pounds

Moose: 1,800 pounds


Elk: 5 Feet at the shoulder; 8 feet from nose to tail

Moose: 5-6.5 feet at the shoulder


Elk: Reddish brown to light brown body with darker legs

Moose: Dark, blackish brown body with white-gray legs


Elk: Dark brown neck compared to the body

Moose: Same color neck as the body; pronounced beard on the throat


Elk: Slender and pointed snout

Moose: Large, bulbous snout


Elk: Pale yellow to white in color

Moose: Yellowish color

Bull Antlers

Elk: Has long brow tines and distinct main beam and points

Moose: Has palmated antlers, tines protruded from the edges

Social Characteristics

Elk: Gather in herds

Moose: Travels alone

Track Marks

Elk: Slightly lighter

Moose: Deeper and larger

Tip of Hooves

Elk: Blunted tip as they travel longer distances

Moose: Pointed tip

Hoof Shape

Elk: Tooth-shaped hooves

Moose: Heart-shaped hooves


Elk has pointed antlers while moose has palmated antlers. Moose is the largest species of deer while elk is the second largest. Elk has shaggy and dark color neck. Moose is dark brown in color. The main difference between elk and moose is the shape of antlers.


1. “Elk Facts.” Elk Network, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, .
2. Sartore, Joel. “Moose.” National Geographic, 11 Nov. 2010,

Image Courtesy:

1. “Rocky Mountain Bull Elk” By MONGO – Own work (Public Domain) via
2. “” By Ryan Hagerty –  (Public Domain) via

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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