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Difference Between Moose and Elk

Moose vs Elk

Being part of the same deer family, it is difficult for most people to identify an elk from a typical moose. And because the moose is the largest division and the more popular specie of the two, some may not be aware of the existence of the elk. On top of which, the names of these animals also differ in some countries. For example, Alces alces (the moose) as people call it in Northern America, is oddly referred to as an elk in some European countries particularly in Sweden. In addition, while being considered by Americans as Cervus canadensis (the elk), Europeans call this deer the wapiti.

In terms of its general physical characteristics, however, the moose is larger than elks. It also has bigger palmate antlers (among males). Moreover, the moose appears to have a bulbous nose (more pronounced in males) while being an absent feature among elks.

But some experts discern the two types of deer by virtue of the difference in their tracks. The deer hunters make use of this information to initiate a more effective hunting activity as both are much sought after for their meat and antlers. According to these hunters, the elk usually leaves a print four inches long and three inches wide. On the other hand, the moose has the bigger footprint. They say the moose print can be one to three inches longer than that of the bull elk.
The two deer also differ in the shape of their hoofs The hoof tip belonging to the elk is somewhat blunted as opposed to the moose having a pointier hoof tip. The blunt hoofs among elks are designed for them to travel longer distances while their counterpart doesn’t require such as the moose has a different migratory pattern giving them pointier hoofs.

Because of the bigger body size among the typical moose, their tracks sink deeper into the soil. The lighter legs and slightly smaller build of the elk leaves shallower marks on the ground. This depends, of course, on the type of ground (hard or soft).

The moose also differs from most elks in terms of traveling characteristics. Most or all moose prefer to travel alone or in small numbers (rare). When they travel in pairs or more, they are usually walking with their young. Elks generally pack in herds. This is one of the easiest techniques in differentiating the two.


1.Moose are the largest and the more popular members of the deer family. The elk only places second.
2.Elks have smaller footprints compared to the moose.
3.Elks have blunt hoof tips while moose have pointier ones.
4.Elks leave shallower tracks as opposed to the moose’s deeper track marks.
5.Elks travel in herds while moose are more solitary.

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  1. This issue has been discussed many times and commonly people are getting even more confused each time. It has to do with the differences between UK and US English and that there are a number (eight) of subspecies of alces alces spread over North America and Eurasia.

    Now, the scientific name of the specie, alces alces, is dervied from it’s latin name. The names in Western and North European languages are related to the latin name. From Iceland to Italia via Portugal the names are Elgur, Elg, Älg, Elg, Elch, Elk, Eland, d’Elan, Anta, Alce and Alce. In US and Canada the same specie got its name derived from the Algonquian language, something like “mons”, “mos” or “moz”.

    The confusement increases by that in US, the specie Cervus canadensis is denoted Elk. In Canada and Europe that specie is called Wapiti deer.

    So if you say elk or moose is mainly due to your version of English, UK or US. A as a friend of mine use to say. English, a common language separated by two countries.

    Except extinct ones, there are now eight subspecies. Four in North America and four in Eurasia. The eight subspecies could be grouped into two distinct groups and one intermediate. The four subspecies in North America goes into one group, two subspecies in Europe and Western Russia goes into another group and the two subspecies in Eastern Russia is somewhat in between, though commonly classified as belonging to the American group.

    Subspecie: Alces Alces Alces
    Group: European
    Called: European elk/moose
    Spread: Europe and W. Russia

    Subspecie: Alces Alcesz Pfizenmayeri
    Group: European
    Called: Yakutian, Mid-Siberian or Lena elk/moose
    Spread: Eastern Siberia, Mogolia, Manchuria

    Subspecie: Alces Alces Cameloides
    Group: Intermediate
    Called: Ussurian or Amur elk/moose
    Spread: Estern Siberia except the very east

    Subspecie: Alces Alces Buturlini
    Group: Intermediate
    Called: Kolymsky, Chukotk or East-Siberian elk/moose
    Spread: The very E. Russia

    Subspecie: Alces Alces Gigas
    Group: American
    Called: Alaskan elk/moose
    Spread: Alaska, W. Yukon

    Subspecie: Alces Alces Andersoni
    Group: American
    Called: North-Western or Western elk/moose
    Spread: W. Canada and N. US

    Subspecie: Alces Alces Shiras (or Shirasi)
    Group: American
    Called: Shiras elk/moose
    Spread: US Rockies (Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Wyomig, Utah and Colorado)

    Subspecie: Alces Alces Americana
    Group: American
    Called: Eastern elk/moose
    Spread: E. Canada and US

    There are more to read at:

  2. Anyone who can’t tell/see the difference between a moose and an elk, needs to be slapped up the head with a moose antler until they figure it out.

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