Differences between an Elk and a Reindeer

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Elk and Reindeer have a lot to share in common. They are ranging from the fact that they are both large-bodied deer species because they are both ungulates. Telling an Elk from a Reindeer from a distance may prove to be a difficult task. And this is particularly true if you aren’t familiar with the deer species. The two are almost the same size in height, and both have antlers that you may not easily distinguish from a distance. 

With so many similarities tying these two, you may be yearning to know what tells them apart after all. We will learn about the two animals and make it easier for you to understand them and distinguish one from the other. Let’s have a look at them individually first.

The Elk

You will realize that an Elk is somehow larger than a Reindeer at a closer look and observation. It is just larger than a Reindeer, but it is also the largest of all the red deer species and one of the largest in the entire deer species. An Elk is known as a Wapiti in the European countries, and it bears the scientific name Cervus Canadensis.  You may check out our article on Elk calling here.

Body Size and Weight

An Elk can attain a maximum height of up to 1.5m (5ft) tall from the ground with its withers. The males have antlers, which can rise to 1.2m (4 feet) from the head. These antlers make it easier to distinguish them from other species at a closer look. When you combine the wither height and that of the antlers, you get a total height of 2.75m (9ft) from the ground. That is taller than any normal human being.

Male Elks weigh more than the females with their average weight falling between 225 to 600kg, about 500 to 1,300 pounds. Another distinguishing and outstanding feature is their shaggy necks, which quickly sets them apart from other deer species. They have an interesting coat that changes color and thickness in relation to the climate. They, however, maintain darker necks and pale rumps.


You are more likely to find Elks in the mountainous forests in North America and East Asia. Mostly you will find them along the forest edges grazing. Most of those found in America have adopted a desert and semi-desert lifestyle in regions like the Great Plains. They travel in large herds for protection and can run at a top speed of about 70km/h (45mi/h).


The sound that male Elks make not only distinguishes them from the Reindeers but also the Moose and other deer species. The males have a loud, high-pitched bugle, which they sound in the mornings and evenings.


Elks are primarily grazers just like cattle; they are ruminants, and therefore whatever they eat passes through the four-chambered stomachs for digestion. Just so they do not lose their deer touch, Elks also browse like other deer. They mostly feed in the mornings and evenings when i