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You’ll probably hear female elk or male elk to distinguish this deer species’ sexes, but what is a female elk called? Elk females are called cows, while male elks are called bulls.
Elk is among the largest deer species. They are second to moose regarding size and live almost similar lives, and they are often confused. Wapiti is another name for these magnificent creatures. They live an organized life, and female elks have a critical role in species survival. These creatures have fascinating aspects, as we are going to see in this write-up.
The elk is copper brown, and the neck and legs are often darker. The female elks usually weigh around 500 pounds meaning they are lighter than the males, weighing up to 700 pounds.
Elk Reproduction, Calving, and Nursing
The female elk features a short estrus cycle that lasts for a day or two and typically involves a dozen or more attempts. They can reproduce by the autumn of the second year. The gestation period usually lasts between 240 to 262 days. A female elk is that which separates from the herd and finds a perfect place to give birth. But nature has its way of protecting the newborn.
A baby elk is called a calf, and they are born in late May and early June. Calves at birth will weigh between 33 to 35 pounds. Most cows will give birth to one calf, but there is a good percentage that gives birth to twins.
The baby elk are born spotted and scentless, which helps to camouflage them from predators as they lie flimsy on the grass. The calves weigh 33 to 35 pounds at birth and can nurse off their mother for two to five months and reunite with the rest of the herd after two weeks, and they can feed on grass when they are approximately one month old. However, the offspring remain with the mother until the next seasons’ offspring are born.
Is a Female Elk Dangerous?
Elk can be quite aggressive, and in most reported cases, they attack without warning. The female elk can be aggressive during spring. This is the calving season, and the cows have to protect their young ones and defend themselves whenever they feel cornered.
During the rut season in August and late October, the mature bulls experience a surge in testosterone and can be extremely dangerous.
They can use their hooves, antlers, and sometimes teeth as a last resort to make sure they overpower you. Thus, it would be great if you ensure a safe distance of at least 30 meters away. If an elk seems alert, nervous, and sends its ears back or grinds teeth, this is a warning sign that you’re too close, and you should back off.
The female elk can become annoyed if you, by any chance, come between her and her calf. The cow is intensively defensive if she thinks her calf is in danger and can strike without an alert with her formidable hooves. Interestingly, after the rut, female elk usually form large herds consisting of up to 50.
This is merely for defensive and grazing purposes whereby the newborn calves will be kept close by a sequence of vocalizations. The larger nurseries will engage in an ongoing and consistent chatter during the daytime. Moreover, when the elk herd is approached by a predator, the largest and strongest cow will take the lead to fight the enemy with all she has got.
Decisive and Passive Female Elks
When it comes to choosing the mating partner, the females are passive. But they are choosy in one way or the other. The cow stays back and watches the fascinating methods the males use to woo them. When you explore the parks and the Rocky Mountains eagerly looking for elks, you might not be so lucky to spot a good number, but you could keep an eye on some telltale signs on trees. These signs are usually some rubbed marks where a bull has scratched a bark off, which is an activity he hopes would win the female elk’s heart.
The other weird and rather exciting way males use to lure the cows on heat includes the fatal attraction. In this style, the male elk digs a hole on the ground with its majestic hooves and fills it with its urine then bathes in it. After bathing in the urine, the bulls are more than sure that the scent will convince a mate. This is exceptionally romantic in the elk’s world, and most females end up being convinced of mating.
What is the Significance of Antler Points when Female Elks are Choosing Mating Partners?
The females are even choosier when it comes to the number of antlers points. That sounds hilarious because a female elk can actually count. Some scientific research shows that female elks use this as one criterion for deciding their mating partner.
They can count up to ten. When presented with the option between a male mate with ten antler points and one with nine points, the female prefers the one with ten points. It shows that female elks pay attention to details, which is one reason why these creatures survive in a world full of uncertainties.
Can Female Elks Run At High Speed?
Speed is probably one aspect that keeps the elk alive out there in the jungle filled with predators. Even though elks possess vicious fighting techniques to protect themselves from predators, they use it as a last resort. Running at high speeds is often the best way they use to keep off predators.
The female elks are smaller than the bulls and can run at high speeds. Weighing over 700 pounds, the male elk is a large creature, probably second to moose. Just because the elk is that huge, don’t ever think it is slow. A mature bull can attain a staggering speed of up to 40 miles per hour.
In some instances, they have outrun horses in short races if you can believe that. The male elk is also capable of jumping up to eight feet vertically. If that’s the male elk, which is over 200 pounds heavier than the female, you can guess how fast the female elk is and her jumping- ability. The cow can reach up to 50 miles per hour and make great jumps surpassing their male counterparts.
It is now clear that female elk possesses incredible aspects. Besides bearing the young ones, they also play a critical role in defense, feeding, and making the whole elk herd organized. They are decisive in choosing the best mating partners, ensuring the best breed is born in every generation. Indeed, female elks are superb.
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