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Elk vs. Antelope: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 21, 2023
Elk are large deer species known for their impressive antlers, while antelopes are diverse, typically smaller, and characterized by their slender build and horns.

Key Differences

Elk are part of the deer family, large in size and known for their massive antlers, which they shed annually. Antelopes, on the other hand, belong to the Bovidae family and are recognized for their slender, elegant bodies and permanent horns.
Elk are predominantly found in North America and parts of East Asia, adapting to forest and mountain habitats. While, antelopes are diverse and widespread, primarily inhabiting Africa and parts of Asia, often seen in grasslands and savannas.
The elk's diet mainly consists of grasses, plants, leaves, and bark, suitable for their forest and mountain environments. Whereas, antelopes, varying widely in species, have diets ranging from grasses in savannas to leaves and shrubs in more wooded areas.
In terms of behavior, elk are known for their herding tendencies and elaborate mating rituals, including bugling by males. Antelopes exhibit a range of behaviors, with some species being solitary while others form large herds, and their mating practices vary widely.
The physical appearance of elk is marked by their large size, with males featuring impressive antlers. Antelopes are generally smaller and sleeker, with both males and females often sporting distinct horns that differ in shape across species.

Comparison Chart


Deer (Cervidae)


Forests, mountains
Grasslands, savannas, woods


Grasses, plants, leaves, bark
Grasses, leaves, shrubs


Herding, elaborate mating rituals
Varies from solitary to herding, diverse mating practices

Physical Features

Large size, males with antlers
Slender build, both genders with horns

Elk and Antelope Definitions


Elk are large deer species known for their impressive antlers.
The elk bugled loudly during the mating season.


Antelopes have diets that include grasses, leaves, and shrubs, depending on their habitat.
The antelope grazed on the fresh grass after the rains.


Elk inhabit forest and mountain regions, primarily in North America and parts of Asia.
We spotted a herd of elk while hiking in the Rocky Mountains.


Both male and female antelopes typically have horns, which vary in shape and size.
The antelope's twisted horns were a remarkable feature.


Male elk are known for their large, branching antlers, which they shed annually.
The male elk's antlers were an impressive sight.


Antelope behavior varies from solitary to forming large herds, with diverse mating practices.
A solitary antelope stood watchfully at the edge of the woodland.


Elk are herbivores, feeding on grasses, plants, and bark.
The elk grazed on the grasses near the forest edge.


Antelopes are a diverse group of Bovidae family members, known for their slender bodies and horns.
The antelope sprinted across the savanna.


Elk are social animals, often forming large herds.
A large herd of elk moved across the valley at dawn.


Antelopes are primarily found in Africa and parts of Asia, inhabiting various environments.
We saw several species of antelope on our African safari.


A large reddish-brown or grayish deer (Cervus canadensis) of western North America, having long, branching antlers in the male. The elk is sometimes considered a subspecies of the closely related red deer. Also called wapiti.


Any of various swift-running ruminant mammals of the family Bovidae, native to Africa and Eurasia and having unbranched horns.


Chiefly British The moose.


A pronghorn.


Leather made from antelope hide.


Any of several African mammals of the family Bovidae distinguished by hollow horns, which, unlike deer, they do not shed.


(US) The pronghorn, Antilocapra americana.


A fierce legendary creature said to live on the banks of the Euphrates, having long serrated horns and being hard to catch.


One of a group of ruminant quadrupeds, intermediate between the deer and the goat. The horns are usually annulated, or ringed. There are many species in Africa and Asia.
The antelope and wolf both fierce and fell.


Graceful Old World ruminant with long legs and horns directed upward and backward; includes gazelles; springboks; impalas; addax; gerenuks; blackbucks; dik-diks


Do elk shed their antlers?

Yes, male elk shed their antlers annually.

Are elk social animals?

Yes, elk are social and often form large herds.

What habitats do antelopes prefer?

Antelopes prefer habitats like grasslands, savannas, and woods.

What is unique about elk antlers?

Elk antlers are large and branching, unique in their annual shedding.

What is an elk?

An elk is a large deer species, notable for its size and antlers.

Where are elk commonly found?

Elk are commonly found in North America and parts of East Asia.

What is a typical diet for antelopes?

Antelopes typically eat grasses, leaves, and shrubs.

How do antelope horns differ among species?

Antelope horns vary greatly in shape and size among different species.

What is an antelope?

An antelope is a member of the Bovidae family, characterized by slender bodies and horns.

What do elk eat?

Elk primarily eat grasses, plants, leaves, and bark.

Are antelopes fast runners?

Yes, many antelope species are known for their speed.

Are antelopes found in Africa?

Yes, many antelope species are native to Africa.

Do antelopes have diverse mating practices?

Yes, mating practices among antelopes vary widely.

Do both male and female antelopes have horns?

Yes, typically both genders of antelopes have horns.

Do elk have a specific mating season?

Yes, elk have a specific mating season marked by bugling of males.

Do antelope species vary in social behavior?

Yes, antelope social behavior ranges from solitary to forming large herds.

Can elk be found in forests?

Yes, elk inhabit forests and mountain regions.

Is the elk considered a symbol in any culture?

Yes, elk are considered symbols of strength and endurance in various cultures.

What is the size comparison between elk and antelope?

Generally, elk are larger than most antelope species.

Are antelopes adapted to desert conditions?

Some antelope species are well adapted to desert conditions.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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