Reindeer Vs Elk: Understanding The Differences


Reindeer and elk are two of the most majestic creatures in the animal kingdom. They both belong to the deer family and are often confused with each other. However, there are significant differences between these two species that make them unique in their own way.

Physical Appearance

The first noticeable difference between reindeer and elk is their size. Reindeer are smaller in size and weigh around 200-300 pounds, while elk can weigh up to 700 pounds. Another physical difference is their antlers. Reindeer have antlers that are shorter and more compact, while elk have larger and more elaborate antlers.


Reindeer are found in the northern regions of the world, particularly in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. They are well adapted to living in cold and harsh environments. Elk, on the other hand, are found in various regions of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. They prefer living in forested areas and grasslands.


The diet of reindeer consists mainly of lichens, mosses, and other plants that grow in the tundra. They are also known to eat fish and small mammals. Elk, on the other hand, are herbivores and feed on grass, leaves, and twigs.


Reindeer are known for their herding behavior and are often found in large groups. They migrate long distances in search of food and shelter. Elk, on the other hand, are solitary animals and prefer to live alone or in small groups.


Reindeer have a unique breeding pattern where males shed their antlers after the mating season, while females keep their antlers throughout the winter. Elk, on the other hand, mate during the fall and give birth to their young in the spring.


Reindeer have been domesticated for thousands of years and are used for transportation, food, and clothing in the Arctic regions. Elk, on the other hand, have not been domesticated and are primarily hunted for their meat and antlers.

Conservation Status

Reindeer are listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), while elk are listed as a species of least concern in some regions and endangered in others.


In conclusion, while reindeer and elk share certain similarities, they are unique in their own way. Understanding the differences between these two species is important for conservation efforts and for appreciating the diversity of life on our planet.