European elk

Alces alces alces

A cow moose and her two calves are standing in the tall grass, eating together on a leafy branch. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Deer (Cervidae
  • Weight
    ♀ 270 – 400 kg, ♂ 360 – 700 kg
  • Habitat
    Wetlands, tundra, moors, mountains, forests

Roaring bulls

Bull elk emit a low-pitched roar to attract cows, with the throat sac acting as a resonator. During the mating season, the bulls make rutting pits by digging shallow holes in the ground, which they soak in urine and then proceed to roll in. The cows wallow likewise. After an average gestation period of eight months, females give birth to one calf, or occasionally twins.

The picture shows an European Elk lying down, it has big antlers and looks to the left side of the picture.

New antlers every year

Only the males have antlers, which they shed each year and grow a new set in spring. The antlers are covered with a soft, vascularised membrane called “velvet”, which transports nutrients to the growing antlers. Once the antlers are fully grown, the velvet withers. The elk then rubs its antlers against trees to help remove it. A full-grown antler can have a spread of 1.5 m and weigh up to 20 kg. The headdress is shed at the end of the rut.

The elk became extinct in Germany in 1850. Today, individual wanderers occasionally return from neighbouring Poland or the Czech Republic.


Distribution map moose