Rocky Mountain elk

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rocky mountain elk

Bull Elk
Photo by: Lisa Robinson

Rocky Mountain elk Cervus elaphus nelson

Order Artiodactyla  Pigs, deer, pronghorns, sheep, goat, bison, elk, caribou

  • main axis of foot directly between 3rd and 4th digits
  • ankle bone has both ends rounded
  • premolars simpler than the molars- last molar usually 3-lobed
  • Selected families below are all cud-chewing ruminants with no upper incisors. All have complex 4-chambered stomachs that break down plant cellulose, enabling them to graze or browse for a long period, and then retire away from predators & midday heat for the time-consuming cud-chewing and digestion:

Family Cervidae Elk, moose, caribou, & deer (antlers shed every year; usually only on males)

Larger than deer, smaller than moose.

Summer: reddish tan color, with buff-colored rump.

Winter: dark brown with a shaggy mane hanging from the neck to chest.

Social: Live in herds much of year; use distinct summering & wintering areas.

Bull (male) elk have large spreading antlers, shed annually in late winter.

Food: Spring-Summer: grazers of grass, sedges, flowering plants.

Food: Fall-Winter: browsers of shrub & tree branches; all graze on grass


Rocky Mountain Elk Rocky Mountain Elk Rocky Mountain Elk Rocky Mountain Elk

rocky mountain elk cows

Elk cow
Photo by: Lisa Robinson