Elk Facts You’ll Never Forget

These Elk facts will help you know more about the North American Elk

Elk (Cervus elaphus), also known as red deer or wapiti, is known to be the largest species in the deer family of Cervidae. It is also one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America, Central, and East Asia. The male Elk's unique large antlers are the most distinguishing physical feature. There are many subspecies of Elk. Six are found in North America, and four in Asia. Out of the six subspecies found in the wild of North America, two have gone extinct since the last century. The six species are Roosevelt’s Elk, Tule Elk, Manitoban Elk, Rock Mountain Elk, Eastern Elk (extinct), and Merriam’s Elk (extinct). The four Asian subspecies are Altai wapiti, Tian Shan wapiti, Manchurian wapiti, and Alashan wapiti. There are four species of deer known as Central Asian red deer Sichuan deer, Kansu red deer, Tibetan red deer, and Kashmir stag.  The Elk (Cervus Elaphus) is found in the Rocky Mountain region of North America and parts of eastern Asia.

The Roosevelt Elk is the largest North American Elk of the Cascade range. North American Elk is known as one of the more sociable species of deer. After reading this article on red deer facts, you may also look at leopard seal facts and fennec fox facts as well.


Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1-2 calves

How much do they weigh?

392–1,096 lb

How long are they?

5–9 ft

How tall are they?

2-5 ft

What do they look like?

Thick body, slender legs, and short tails

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Humans, grizzly bears, gray wolves, American black bears

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Mountainous regions and woodlands


North-America and eastern Asia





Scientific Name

Cervus canadensis





Elk Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Elk?

The Elk (Cervus Elaphus) is kind of a red deer. It is one of the largest mammals on land in terms of the size of the body but not the antler. Their fur can be dark brown in the winter and turn tan in summer. They have a characteristic buff-colored rump. In the young Elks, the antlers are covered in velvet and are soft.

What class of animal does an Elk belong to?

The Elk belongs to the mammal class of animals. Bull Elk is one of the largest mammals on land, especially in North America. The male Elks are known for their antlers. They are large, heavy graceful animals who live in herds and like to roam.

How many Elks are there in the world?

The estimated population of Elk (Cervus Elaphus) in the North American region is 1-1.2 million. There have been constant efforts to protect and increase the number of Elks in all four subspecies in North America and other regions of the world where various species and subspecies of these animals are found.

Where does an Elk live?

The Elks like to live in open woodlands and try to avoid living in denser regions of forests. The bull Elk migrate to the subalpine region during the summers.

What is an Elk's habitat?

Significant populations of Elk (Cervus Elaphus) or deer are found throughout the world. Bull Elk are found in the western region of the United States and Canada through the eastern Rocky mountains up to New Mexico and in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. With concentrated efforts by hunter- conservation organizations, the Elk population has been re-introduced in many states of the United States of America.

Who do Elks live with?

The Elks (Cervus Elaphus) are known to live in groups in the forests. The female Elks especially live in large herds. They are known to form larger groups during summers. The male Elks form smaller groups or prefer to be alone. The youngsters may be part of either the female or the male groups. Only during the breeding season do the male and female groups come together. The males compete with each other to get entry into the female harems.

How long does an Elk live?

The Elk's life span can extend up to a period of 20 years in forests. If they stay in their natural habitat and are safe from hunting, the Elk will go on to live a long and healthy life. However, the Elk populations are known to suffer from parasite attacks and diseases which may lead to early death in this species.

How do they reproduce?

The female Elks are known to have a shorter estrus cycle of only one or two days during the mating season. Mating may involve dozen or more attempts. The females must weigh at least 200 kg for reproduction. The mating season for Elks starts around the month of August. A male Elk will compete with other males and fight with their antlers to get included in the female herds. By the flick of the tongue the male Elk will check if the female is ready or not for mating. If a female is not ready, she will continue to open and close her mouth as well and will lower her head and continue weaving sideways. This will make the make male stop. Once the female Elk is ready, the male will lick her and start the mating process. The female gives birth to one or, on very rare occasions, two offspring after a gestation period of 240-262 days. When the female Elk is about to give birth, she will separate herself from the group and remain alone with her baby till it is large enough to escape predators.

What is their conservation status?

The Elk (Cervus Elaphus) are in the Least Concern category of the conservation status. However, hunting and loss of natural habitat could be a cause for concern for the Elk population. This is why efforts for their conservation are being going on at Wyoming's National Elk Refuge and Yellowstone National Park. Also, the Elks are known to suffer from bacterial or parasites attack, which the conservation specialists are studying to help the Elk population. But poaching for Elk meat and antlers is a serious concern and requires concerted efforts from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Elk Fun Facts

What do Elks look like?

The Elks (Cervus Elaphus) are large animals with a fine velvet-like fury skin on their bodies. They have a large body on thin, slender legs and short tails. The males have antlers that can grow at a rate of 1-in per day. These antlers are made of bone and have six times on each antler. During winter, they grow a thick layer of hair and thin neck manes to protect against the cold.

An Elk, Cervus Elaphus, has beautiful antlers.

How cute are they?

Elks are large but cute animals who can be observed from a distance. Although they are plant-eating animals, they tend to be territorial or protective of their herds. They are not known to harm human beings in any way. Since they prefer to stay within their groups, it is a good idea to observe them from a distance.

How do they communicate?

The male Elks are known to have a loud high pitched whistle-like vocalization known as bugling. This whistle tells us how about the fitness of a male Elk. The bugling can reach up to 4000 Hz, which is unusual for a large animal. Apart from this, they are not known to use vocal communication that much.

How big is an Elk?

The Elk (Cervus Elaphus) is considered one of the largest animals on its land. Especially the Roosevelt Elk found in North America is larger than any subspecies found in the continent.

How fast can an Elk move?

The Elk (Cervus Elaphus) can run up to a speed of 45 mph. They love to roam in the open spaces and are known to migrate the longest during the summers to highlands where the temperature is lower.

How much does an Elk weigh?

The male Elk may weigh from 392-1096 lb, and the female Elk may weigh from 377-644 lb. The largest subspecies, the Roosevelt elf, can weigh 701-1100 lb for males, and females may weigh in the range of 575-624 lb.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male Elk are known as bull, and the female elf is known as a cow.

What would you call a baby Elk?

The baby Elk is known as a calf. The younger bulls are known as spike bulls as their antlers are covered with soft velvet and have not forked yet. Females take care of they calves as they are likely to fall victim to coyotes and bobcats.

What do they eat?

The Elks (Cervus Elaphus) are known as ruminants and have stomachs with four different chambers. The Elks are like cattle as they are more like gazers. But they are known to browse too. They are known to eat during the morning and evening and find a shelter in between to digest. Their diet comprises grasses around the year, tree barks during winter, and tree sprouts as well as forbs when it is summer. They are known to consume around 20 lb plants and plant products daily. They like the aspen sprouts a lot.

Are they dangerous?

They might appear non-threatening, but they are known to be aggressive and attack without any warning. The females protect their calves during the initial period until the baby Elk learns to protect itself from predators. We may conclude that it is better to observe them from a distance.

Would they make a good pet?

It wouldn't be advisable to keep an Irish Elk or any Elk as a pet, as they require large areas of land to roam and migrate. They also require a large amount of food which they graze or forage. The Elks are known to be aggressive animals if disturbed. Due to their size, it is not a good idea to cause them any disturbance. The creature is beautiful to observe in its natural habitat.

Did you know...

Elks are known to communicate with their feet.

Male Elks’ antlers are formed and retained based on testosterones in their body. They also shed their antlers every year.

The official state animal of Utah is the Rocky Mountain Elk .

An Elk and a moose are part of the state seal and flag of Michigan.

Is an elk a moose?

The moose has a long bulbous nose and a bell-like growth under their throat. The Elk has no bell and has a narrower snout. The Elk's antlers are pointed and high, while the moose's antlers are broad and flat. The moose is larger than an Elk. The Elk has a more brownish reddish coat while the moose has a black coat. The moose are more common than the Elk.

Do elk eat meat?

In normal circumstances, the Elk is a herbivore, but their diet may include eggs or meat on rare occasions. They mostly prefer eating greeny grass as they get all their nutritional needs from these themselves.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including Alpine Apex, or plains zebra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Elk coloring pages.



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