The largest of deer, length about 3 m, height in shoulders to 235 cm, weight is up to 565 kg. The trunk is short, legs very long, forward and back approximately equal length. The head extended, big, hook-nosed. The upper lip very big, square, strongly hangs over lower. A nose all is covered with hair, except for small, 2 — 3 cm, in round figures - a rhombic or T-shaped spot between nostrils. Large ears, the top their zaostrenno-rounded length about 26 cm. Eyes are small. Both floors have a short neck, thick, with very strong muscles, with a big mane. From the earliest age, even at embryos, "earring" — the skin outgrowth under a throat covered with hair is formed. At old the earring is shortened, the longest is at three — four-year-old. The nape is high, gorboobrazny. A back a straight line, a sacrum it is raised, but is much lower than a nape. The back is strongly sloping, a tail short, about 8 cm. Hoofs are narrow, long, almost direct, naked from below; at a male is wider, than at a female. Lateral hoofs long, when walking usually touch the earth. All fingers are connected by a strong, extensible membrane. Plusnevy glands are small, pre-orbital small, functioning. Horns are wide, paliform, in the scheme remind a palm of the person with the moved apart fingers. On appearance both floors are similar, but cows are slightly weaker than males and are deprived of horns.
Coloring of adults dark, gray-brown or blackish, an extremity is much lighter than all body. Young people to four-months age reddish-brown or red, equal coloring on all body.
The molt begins at the end of March and especially intensively proceeds in May — June. Old hair remain until the end of July. Since June new wool, very short until the end of August begins to grow. The full fur grows in September. In October — November wool grows in length, in December — January fur still fresh, brilliant, but in February wear is already noticeable, and in March gloss is lost. The underfur drops out in April and May. New appears in August. Pribylye receive the coloring similar to coloring of adults, in October. Horns fall down at old males at the end of November and in December, at three — four-year-old in January and February, at young people in February — March, sometimes at the beginning of April. Old men clear horns in August, young people — by the beginning of September.
Traces of an elk remind cow, but is larger and longer. Sometimes diameter exceeds them 15 cm. The trace of a bull is wider also krugly, than at a female. Kal — oval nutlets, at males bound together, at females separate, large, to 4 cm of length. In the summer, in the fall and spring of kcal soft, sometimes semi-fluid; in the winter always dense.
Now within the CIS the elk is widely settled on a forest zone whereas at the beginning of the current century the area of its dwelling in the European part of the country was considerably reduced, and stay it was limited only to big forests. The northern border of distribution more or less coincides with northern limits of the woods, southern can be carried out schematically as follows now. In Ukraine and in Belarus it covers Polesia and goes to the Bryansk woods, to northern parts of the Tambov region and to Buzuluk pine forest of the Chkalovsky region. From here the border rises to the lower Kama Current and again falls on river. Béla, crossing South Ural under 53 °C. highway; beyond the Urals she coincides with the southern border of a taiga, goes to the mouth of the Tura River, to Barabinok and Novosibirsk, and then goes down to Altai where there is no elk only in his southern part. In Eastern Siberia there are no elks in the tundra, in steppes of Transbaikalia, on Kamchatka. To Sakhalin they, by way of exception, run on ice of Strait of Tartary. Out of the CIS elks remained in places in Scandinavia, northern parts of the Mongolian National Republic and in northeast China; are found in North America.
The elks living in Russia treat two sharply different subspecies. The western or European elk, is widespread in Europe and in Western Siberia, on the East to Yenisei, including Altai. Coloring at it equal, brown or gray-brown almost on all body. The end of a muzzle whitish, extremities white, with darkening on forward part. Hair on 2/3 from the basis brown, further a dark ring, still further rusty and ocherous, top brown. Some hair with the white bases. Coloring changes on seasons concerning density of tone a little. Most brightly this elk is painted in the fall and in the first half of winter, then grows dull. The muzzle is moderately hook-nosed.
East or American elk, inhabits Siberia to the East from Yenisei. Coloring is multi-color. End of a muzzle and top of the head rusty or rusty-brown. Sides of a neck and back, sometimes top of sides, grayish or reddish-brown, often light. Along ridge from a nape the black not clear strip which is lost on a back. All bottom of a body black, is more often coal-black. It is formed as if light chaprak, covering an upper body. Extremities are brownish, without white, often coal-black on articulate areas. All coloring sharply ischerchena dark and whitish. Hair on 3/4 from the basis white or whitish, at top a rusty corbel, the top black, on chernookrashenny places of a body hair entirely black, with the brown basis. In August coloring of this elk the most dark, almost black, then with growth of hair begins a posvetleniye. Since January the black ends of hair wear out, gloss disappears, and coloring even more brightens. The muzzle is very sharply hook-nosed.
These subspecies change in different places a little. In the basin of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers elks small, with weak horns; they are allocated to the tribe — natio bedfordi Bobrinski. In other places of Eastern Siberia elks are larger, sometimes reach the largest sizes, horns at them are enormous; they are called by natio pfit-zenmayeri Zukowski.
The elk — the inhabitant of taiga districts, but keeps mainly about suburbs of the wood, goes to a deep continuous taiga seldom, preferring glades, Mari, bogs, especially mixed woods with an aspen and a poplar. Water — a necessary condition of dwelling of an elk. Avoids rocky and stony places absolutely, in mountains sticks to a flat relief.
The most part of year the elk roams. It is worth in time mnogosnezhya, in thickets, herds in 10 — 15 heads. Males make separate groups. Moves a little in December and January. During a crust lives absolutely settled in thickets. In April leaves winter greasings, otkochevyvy to summer pastures. From year to year makes migrations on the same ways. In May one-year-old and two-year-old elks keep separately, a telny uterus goes to deaf places. In the summer elks choose mainly boggy woods, coast of the rivers and lakes, bogs. Often lie in water, escaping from a heat and insects.
Rutting and roar begin since the end of August. Young people wander separately at this time. Males usually chase one female, old sometimes several. Fights between males are frequent. Bulls till four years often remain single as they are driven away by older. Rutting happens not in thickets, and in more open places, on open bogs, on coast, Couples keep more or less settled on the chosen site. Males during rutting are extremely angry, eat a little, but very often drink, all the time follow females; external feelings at them become dull; animals get a pungent specific smell therefore their meat becomes almost unusable in food. Techka proceeds about a month, comes to an end at the end of October.
Pregnancy lasts 240 — 250 days. Otel occurs at the beginning of May and on the end of June, at the majority at the end of May — the beginning of June. Females go for this purpose to the most lonely places and throw calfs directly on a grass, without arranging a den. Number of calfs one — two, seldom three; at young elk cows normally one, at old — two. In mountain districts one calf, in flat — mostly two, as a rule, is born. Young people after the birth of day two lie, then start walking gradually, and at monthly age already quickly run. Feeding by milk lasts about three months. Having scented danger, calfs hide, and mother tries to take away the enemy. From monthly age calfs begin to eat aspen and willow escapes. With the end of rutting of a female connect to young people again and autumn movement before snowfall begins. Old bulls keep in the winter separately from herds.
In the summer the main forage of an elk consists of watch (shamrock), glycerin, an iris and other marsh plants, especially their thick rhizomes. The elk also eats escapes of a cane, reed, a heather, a Labrador tea, blueberry and other small low shrubs, a pushitsa, and sometimes almost entirely passes to horsetails. On garyakh it is fed with ivan-tea, in the first half of summer willingly eats dandelions. Eats grain cereals less often, almost does not eat potatoes, just as berries and mushrooms. Before rutting eats almost exclusively bitter watch. It begins to be fed with bark and escapes of trees and bushes in the fall. Grassy plants almost entirely drop out of a fodder diet. More often than others the elk eats a willow, an aspen, a mountain ash, a pine, an oak less often — a linden, a buckthorn, a maple, a nut, a birch, an apple-tree, an alder. Eats also mosses and herpeses from trees. As all deer, at an opportunity goes to solonetzic soils, and — daily, in the morning or a .vecher, especially in the summer. It is fed mainly in the morning and in the evening, but where he often is disturbed in the afternoon, it is grazed at night. Lies usually near the place of greasings in the afternoon.
Roar of a bull during rutting — loud, audible on long distance, like a sound from blow a butt on a wood trunk. Females roar is similar, but is thinner. Their roar can be compared to a sound "at-about", to an exhalation on the end. The disturbed elks sniff is very similar to a bear.
Out of external feelings of an elk the hearing and sense of smell are very thin, sight is slightly more weakly developed. The elk — a peaceful animal and tries to leave the enemy. Only bulls during rutting and the females protecting young people attack. Wounded and angry also sometimes attack, beat with legs and horns, tear teeth. Elks small groups keep, occasionally gather herds to 15 heads. Old men often wander alone. Elks, povidimy, till 30 — 40 years live.
The elk has not enough enemies, main of them — wolves, follow further a bear, a lynx, and in the Far East a tiger. Young people perish from the most various predators. From insects gadflies — skin and nasal, especially the last which not only is capable to complicate breath and feeding are most harmful, but can even cause a case. Also ticks, mosquitoes and midges exasperate an elk.