What’s the Difference Between Bison and Buffalo?

Difference Between Bison and Buffalo


Let’s find out.

Bison and Buffalo are usually considered to be the same. Both these animals are from the cattle category. However, people are not able to easily find the difference between them; they consider them to be the same.

Bison and buffalo belong to the Bovinae family. Both of them own sturdy bodies, horned and ox-like structure which make them appear similar by all means. But there are definite differences between them.


Difference Between Bison and Buffalo

  • Buffalo are of two kinds: Cape Buffalo Syncerus which belongs to Africa and the other is Water Buffalo from Asia. None of the buffalos relates to Bison. Bison divides majorly into two categories: American Bison and European Bison. Generally, bison belongs only to North America and South America.
  • Another definite difference between the two animals can be seen by observing their horns. Bison’s horns are like typical cow horns and Buffalo’s horns are huge and arc-shaped. Bison also has a huge shoulder hump so that could help differentiate. They also own huge heads and its overall appearance is bulky.
  • Buffalo and Bison are four-footed. Both of them have huge structures, but buffalos do not have humps while Bison possesses huge hump.
  • Horns of Bison are small and sharp while the ones of Water Buffalo are long but not that sharp. Cape Buffalo have medium sized sharp horns.

Additional Points

  • Bisons have thick fur but Buffalo have light fur.
  • Bisons own thick beard. Buffalo lacks beards.
  • Bisons generally weigh from 700lb to 2,200lb. Wild Water Buffalo weigh around 2640lb and domestic ones weigh 1870lb. 2000lb is the weight of the Cape Buffalos.
  • Life spans also differ, too. Bisons live for approximately 13 to 21 years while Water Buffalo live for around 25 to 30 years. Cape Buffalo have a smaller life span of 15 to 25 years.
  • Bison eats grass and hay, but Buffalo only consume grass.

Some Interesting Facts

  • Rugged lands, cold regions and plains suit well for Bison, but Water Buffalo cannot live in rugged lands. The Cape Buffalo can manage well in rugged condition, though.
  • Bison can be used for meat, clothing, etc. Water Buffalo are used for milk, cattle purpose as well as for meat. Cape buffalo, too, used for the consumption in the form of meat.
  • There is also a huge difference in the population of the two mammals. Bisons are only 2 million whereas Water Buffalo are 150 million and Cape Buffalo again counts below 160,000.

The major reason behind the confusion between Bison and Buffalo is due to the early explorers.

The explorers of North America consider Bison to be Buffalos because they appear to be similar. The confusion was natural as there are many similarities between these mammals. Their physical characteristics and appearances are very similar and differences are very few.

Difference Between Bison and Buffalo

As the final expansion of knowledge took place and more research studies came, they notice the minute differences between the two animals.

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Further classifications also took place and deeper studying about them was done. But even today people who are not aware of the differences tend to consider them to be the same. The ones who are unaware of the difference should try noticing a few major differences in between them. In such a way, both of them can easily find out through the external outlook.

One should observe the variations in the following body parts of both sections:

  • Horns
  • Humps
  • Habitat

Anyway, we hope this is a new information for many of you and it’s quite easy to find out the difference between buffalo and bison now.