Difference between Moose, Elk, Caribou, and Reindeer

By: | Updated: May-28, 2019

There are different species of deer out in the wild. Among them are the moose, elk, caribou, and the reindeer. Some find it hard to differentiate one from the other as they all look quite similar. However, if you know what to look for and inspect close enough, you’ll find out that there are differences in appearance as well as in certain characteristics of the animals. Continue reading this article to ascertain the differences between the moose, elk, caribou, and reindeer.

Summary Table

MooseElkCaribouReindeer
Flat, wide antlersTall, sharp antlersTall, curved antlersSharp and pointy antlers that are covered in velvet
Bulky faceDark, shaggy necksUsually has a white coat on its neckStocky with thick necks
Solitary animalsTravels in herdsTravels in herdsTravels in herds
Can be found in Canada and AlaskaLives in mountainous forests in North America and East AsiaFound in North America, Europe, Asia and GreenlandLives primarily in the Arctic

Definitions

moose
A moose

The moose is the largest deer species in the world. It can easily be identified by its flat, wide antlers and bulky face. Moose can be found in Canada, Alaska and in the coldest regions in Europe. They are browsers, not grazers, and are solitary animals.

elk
An elk

The elk is among the largest deer species, characterized by tall, sharp antlers, dark shaggy necks and pale rumps. They live in the mountainous forests in North America and East Asia. Elks usually travel in herds.

caribou
A caribou

Caribou is a species of deer that has tall, curved antlers and a white coat on the neck. They usually travel in herds and are found in North America, Europe, Asia and Greenland.

reindeer
A reindeer

The reindeer is the most popular among the species of deer. It has sharp and pointy antlers and often identified by their stocky, thick necks. They travel in herds and live primarily in the Arctic.

Comparison

The main differences between the moose, elk, caribou, and reindeer would be in their body size, as well as the size and shape of their antlers. All four of these animals are species of deer but among the four, the moose is the largest. The elk, caribou and reindeer are almost the same size. When it comes to the antlers, the moose is the most different since its antlers are flat and wide. The caribou’s antlers can be easily identified since they are tall and curved. The antlers of the elk and reindeer are somewhat similar. However, the reindeer’s antlers are covered in velvet.

Among the four, the moose is the only solitary animal, while the elk, caribou and reindeer often travel in herds. The moose and elk are browsers or selective feeders. Reindeer, on the other hand, are grazers or roughage feeders. The caribou is noted to be an intermediate feeder or mixed forager.

The moose can be found in Canada and Alaska, while elk live in mountainous forests in North America and East Asia. Caribou are found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Greenland, whereas reindeer live primarily in the Arctic.

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