Eurasian Elk

Alces alces

The Eurasian elk together with its close relative the moose (Alces americanus), is the largest living deer species, and is easily recognised by its humped shoulders, broad, overhanging muzzle, and the pendulous flap of skin and hair which hangs beneath the throat, known as the ‘bell’. Elk have long legs, a relatively short tail, and wide hooves, which aid in walking over mud or snow . Males are larger than females, and have bony, hornlike antlers which are shed each winter and re-grown through the summer. The antlers of Eurasian elk are the largest of any deer species, spanning up to 2 metres across and weighing as much as 30 kilograms. Despite their ungainly appearance, elk are remarkably agile and can run silently through dense forests at speeds of up to 35mph. They are also good swimmers and can sustain a speed of up to 6 miles an hour. Elk have relatively poor sight but their hearing and sense of smell are excellent. Their large ears can be rotated 180 degrees and their keen noses can find food below deep snow. Their vision seems to serve them best in detecting moving objects, which is useful for spotting approaching predators. Elk eat twigs, bark, roots and the shoots of woody plants, especially willows and aspens. In winter, they browse on conifers, eating their needle-like leaves. They require 20kg of food per day but their stomachs, when full, can weigh up to 65kg, it’s no surprise then to discover that elk spend most of their time eating.

Bison Fallow Deer