Where do they
live? Elks are
typical forest animals. They inhabit various types of forests, shrublands,
young forest stands, meadows, borders of swamps, banks of water bodies. Elks,
as well as other biungulates living in Latvia, are fond of feeding on forestry
and agriculture crops.
do they live? These large forest inhabitants usually live in families
(mainly cows with calves), in a small groups or alone. Bulls mark and protect
their territory during the mating season. Elk bulls are not too faithful
partners. Usually, a bull sticks to one cow for some time, then to another,
etc. In contrast to other biungulates of Latvia, upon birth, the fur of the
young elk calves is not spotted, but has a homogeneous reddish-brown colour. Elk
cows protect their calves and, if in danger, can even attack humans!
do they eat? Elk is a typical herbivorous animal feeding on approximately 60
different grass and 30 woody plant (leaves, branches, young shoots, buds,
needles) species. Elks are ruminants - they swallow the plant-based food almost
whole, without chewing. Afterwards, during moments of rest, the swallowed food
is regurgitated and chewed for the second time, swallowed again and,
afterwards, the digestion process continues in the stomach.
Did you know?
is the largest animal in Latvia in terms of height.
are the largest representatives of the deer family.
are approximately eight subspecies of elk.
is characterised by a long mandible and upper lip, mane on the withers and
“beard” under the chin.
weight of the antlers of an adult elk can reach almost 20 kilos.
contrast to most deer species, elk are solitary animals.
are biungulates – when walking, they evenly distribute the weight between the
two principal toes (the third and the fourth).
search of food under water, elk can even dive to a depth of five metres.
can seal their nostrils, which enables them to hold their breath and even eat
plants under the water.
fur has hollow hair, which allows the animals to retain warmth in winter and
keep above the water, while swimming.
short distances, elk can develop a speed of 55 km/h.
multiple cave paintings found in Europe show, people were hunting elk as early
as in the Stone Age. In Sweden, during an archaeological excavation, elk
antlers that are 8000 years old were found.
contrast to other biungulates of Latvia, upon birth, the fur of the young elk
calves is not spotted, but has a homogeneous reddish-brown colour.
communicate by using various strange sounds that mostly resemble moaning and
elks spend as much energy on growing their antlers every year as female elks
spend during pregnancy.
the red deer and roe deer, elk do not have upper teeth.
came to the verge of extinction during the First World War and the Second World
War, when they were intensively hunted for meat and skin.
the war, elks were used for transportation and communication purposes as well,
their skins were used to make clothing for army soldiers.
are among the most popular game animals, mainly due to their trophy antlers.
is the national animal of Sweden (Jämtland Province), Canada (Yukon territory) as
well as the terrestrial mammal of Alaska State.
the ancient territory of Latvia, Elk served as a totem (symbolic) animal.
Myths and truth. The antlers of male elk already start developing
during the first year of life. In adult bulls, the antlers grow from April to
July-August, they are comparatively “soft” and covered with young, hairy skin
during the growth period. Later they solidify and the skin is rubbed off them.
Usually, by the mating period in September, their head decor is completely
clean and free of skin. Elk shed their antlers in November-December. The number of branches on the antlers
cannot be used to determine the age of the elk!