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Difference Between Elk and Caribou

elk-300Elk vs Caribou

The difference between elk and caribou goes beyond just their behavioral differences. Most people believe that they are all simply larger deer, which in a way is true, but the differences go further than that. While both are part of the deer family, they are certainly not like Bambi in any way at all.

The caribou is an interesting breed. They like the cold, high altitudes, and can be found throughout Alaska, as well as in the cold climates of Russia, and other high altitude countries. They have a propensity to live in herds, traveling in search of food as a group. Their group stature helps them avoid predators, and human enemies as well.

The caribou is also the inspiration behind the traditional mode of transportation for Santa Claus. Caribou are also called reindeer, and were the original transport team for the actual St. Nick, during pilgrimage trips. It is not unusual to find reindeer being used to transport people and goods across snowy terrain. They can be kept as domestic animals on large properties, and adequately trained to haul long distances.

The female caribou is unique, due to the traditional growing and shedding of her antlers. Usually, among all of the deer family, the males are the only ones who grow and shed antlers. While there is scientific speculation for the reasons behind her ability to do so, there has yet to be any type of scientifically proven facts regarding the case.

The caribou is a lichen eater. In their constant state of migration, however, they do not go over the same territory more than once, so that the previously eaten lichen will have a chance to regrow.

Elk have inspired no similar holiday traditions, or any other traditions for that matter. The elk is another type of large deer that likes the herd lifestyle, but is found in different parts of the world. Namely, in the United States, one can find them in the upper Western and Midwestern states. They can also be relatively easily found in the western half of Canada.

The elk prefers the wooded areas to the grassy tundra that the caribou appreciates. The elk is the second largest deer in the family, outranked solely by the moose.

Their countries of origin vary greatly. Migration and early transportation has brought the caribou to the Canadian and US regions, but they started in places like Russia, Eastern Europe, Northern China, Mongolia, and Scandinavia. The elk are native to the North American and East Asian regions.

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  1. Any physical difference?

  2. “Elk have inspired no similar holiday traditions, or any other traditions for that matter.”

    Perhaps because they are a North American species, not European. If you looked into Native American culture, likely you would find traditions involving this animal.

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