Emu Facts

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"An emu can run 9 feet"

Emus are birds that make their home on the Australian mainland. They can grow up to 6.2 feet tall. This bird is similar in appearance to an ostrich.

Emus are omnivores, eating seeds, fruit, insects and small animals. Their lifespan in the wild is 5 to 10 years.

An Incredible Bird: 5 Facts About Emus!

emu portrait
Emu birds have wings but cannot fly.

© Quartl / Creative Commons

  • An emu's unique call can be heard a mile away
  • The main predators of emu birds are dingoes, hawks and hawks
  • An emu has a transparent membrane over each eye to protect it from dust in the air
  • Emus are always on the move in search of food and water
  • Emu birds have wings but can't fly

scientific name

Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) grazing in Australian bush.
The emu's scientific name is Dromaius novaehollandiae.


The emu's scientific name is Dromaius novaehollandiae. The word Dromaius means runner in Greek and the word novaehollandiae means New Dutchman. New Hollander called the original classification of this bird the New Holland Cassowary.

It belongs to the family Dromaiidae and belongs to the class Aves. There are 4 subspecies of emu.

The scientific name for each is:

D. novaehollandiae novaehollandiae
D. novaehollandiae woodwardi
D. novaehollandiae rothschildi
D. novaehollandiae diemenensis

appearance and behavior

Emu drinking water from a dam
Emus have dark brown plumage that turns light brown as they age. They have blue skin on their necks and heads. Emus stand between 4.9 and 6.2 feet tall.

© J. Vollmer/Creative Commons

Emus have dark brown plumage that turns light brown as they age. They have blue skin on their necks and heads. Emus stand between 4.9 and 6.2 feet tall.

They range in weight from 66 lbs to 121 lbs. For example, a 6-foot emu is as tall as a stack of 5 bowling pins. A 120-pound emu is two-thirds the weight of an adult kangaroo.

Emus have 2 long legs with 3 toes on each foot. These birds can't fly, so they use their long legs to hide from predators. They also have great strides when they run. An emu's step can reach 9 feet in length. Come to think of it, 9 feet is half the height of an adult giraffe.

In addition to running with their legs, emus also use their legs to kick predators. Their powerful kicks and sharp nails on their toes can injure a predator, giving the bird time to flee. An emu's quick kick can even kill a wild dog.

This bird makes a lot of noise. It communicates with other emus by grunting, barking, popping and drumming. In fact, the emu gets its name from the sound it makes. Um! They sometimes make vocalizations to warn other emus that a predator is approaching nearby.

Additionally, emus make a lot of noises to warn other emus to stay away from their nests and eggs. Their calls can be heard a mile away. In conclusion, these are definitely not quiet birds!

Emus are solitary birds, but they can form groups when they travel to another area in search of a larger food supply. A group of emus is called a mob. A flock of emus consists of about 20 birds.

They are non-aggressive birds unless they feel threatened by other animals or people. During the breeding season, they are very aggressive towards each other.

Emu foraging in the sand
Emu foraging in the sand

© Margoz/Creative Commons

Emu and ostrich

Emus and ostriches are similar in appearance and are flightless birds.

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Emus and ostriches are similar in appearance and are flightless birds. But there are some notable differences between them.

The two birds differ greatly in size. Emus are the second largest birds on earth, while ostriches are the largest. Also, when running, an emu has a stride of 9 feet while an ostrich has a stride of 16 feet!

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Ostriches can run faster than emus. The top speed of an ostrich is 43 miles per hour. The EMU has a top speed of 31 mph.

Emus drink a lot of water. In fact, they typically drink about two and a half gallons of water per day. Imagine you have a 2 gallon milk jug in your refrigerator. Plus, there's half a jug left! Alternatively, ostriches can go without water for 2 weeks. They get a lot of water from grass and plants.

There is even a difference in the eggs of the two birds. Emu eggs are bright green, while ostrich eggs are light brown. Speaking of size, one emu egg is about the size of 10 chicken eggs. One ostrich egg is the size of 24 chicken eggs!

Evolution and Origin of the Emu

Emus come from a group of flightless birds that includes emus, ostriches, and the now-extinct moa. These animals are thought to have evolved from flightless ancestors, however, recent research has shown that each type of flightless bird evolved and lost the ability to fly independently, rather than simultaneously.

As mentioned in this article, emus are found in Australia and can be found throughout the continent. This ranges from coastal areas to mountainous areas. In addition, two species of pygmy emus that lived on Kangaroo Island and King Island are extinct in modern times.


Nambung National Park, Western Australia

© iStock.com/Claudia Schmidt

Emus live in mainland Australia. Specifically, they are found in every state in Australia except Tasmania. Grasslands and dry forests are their main habitats. They are constantly moving in search of more food and water. Typically, they drive 9 to 15 miles a day.

Emus have a transparent membrane over each eye that keeps out dust and debris in dry environments. This film also helps keep the eyes moist.

This bird lives mainly in temperate climates, although some of them live in Australia's snowy mountains. Emu's long feathers help keep body temperature stable. If the emu is in a particularly cold region, it will shake its long feathers in an attempt to trap air under them.

This trapped air helps insulate the birds from frigid temperatures. Sometimes they pant (dog-like) to cool down in the hot parts of Australia. Have you ever seen a bird panting like a dog?

These birds migrate to southern Australia in winter and north in summer. Fortunately, they are easily adapted to a variety of climates.


Emus eat grass, flowering plants, insects and leaves.

What do emus eat? Emus are omnivores. They eat fruit, seeds, beetles, small reptiles, and even the droppings of other animals.

Emus don't have teeth, so they can't grind up the plants and animals they eat. Therefore, they swallow small stones that enter the gizzard (part of the emu's stomach). Pebbles grind up food pieces for proper digestion.

Emus contribute to the ecosystem through seed dispersal. These birds eat many plants, fruits and seeds. When they leave droppings, they disperse seeds, allowing more plants to grow.

think about it. Emus travel 9 to 15 miles a day. This means they seed in different areas throughout their habitat.

They also help control insect populations by eating beetles, cockroaches, and other insects.

Predators and Threats

Dingoes are the main predator of emus. This makes sense, since dingoes share the same habitat as emus. They try to steal the emus' eggs and their young.

A pair of dingoes may be targeting an emu's nest. One distracts the emu parents sitting on the nest, while the other dingo approaches and steals an egg or a chick. Dingoes are known for their sneaky approach to hunting their prey.

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Wild dogs will also attack adult full-sized emus. They may try to grab a bird by its neck or head and drag it down. To defend themselves, emus will kick wild dogs or simply run away. Sometimes emus hiss to frighten wild dogs.

Two other predators include hawks and hawks. Emus have a hard time fighting off these predators.

The conservation status of the emu is Not Concerned. Emu populations are classified as stable. They are abundant all over Australia except Tasmania. That's because the birds were once hunted by European settlers, causing their numbers to plummet.

Emus produce oils in their bodies that have been used in medicines, creams and other products. These birds are sometimes hunted for this oil. But this poaching has not led to a drastic reduction in their overall numbers.

In the past, emus would wander to farms to eat seeds, causing farmers to lose some of their crops. They are considered pests. Today, many farmers build tall fences to keep emus away from their crops. Emus cannot jump over these tall fences.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

Hazelnut Plating Machine
Three-day-old incubator-hatched emu chicks experience the outdoors for the first time. One of the more unusual Easter chicks.

© Hazel Plater/Shutterstock.com

Emu breeding season is December and January. Females lay eggs in April, May or June. A male emu swings his feathers swaggeringly around a female. Women have a specific call to tell men that she is interested. Females lay 5 to 15 eggs in groups or clutches.

Each egg weighs a little over a pound. The male emu builds the nest and sits on the eggs. Emu nests are built on the ground using grass and dry shrubs. The female does not sit on the eggs at all. During this time, she lays her eggs and sometimes mates with other males. Emus are polygamous (have more than one mate).

The incubation period for emu eggs is 56 days. In comparison, the incubation period for ostrich eggs is about 40 days. While sitting on the eggs, the male does not eat or drink. The fat stored in his body serves as nourishment, and he drinks the dew from nearby plants as a source of water. From time to time the male emu stands up and flips the eggs.

The newly hatched baby emus are called chicks and are 9.8 inches tall. Newborn chicks have a coat of down and their eyes are open. During the first few months after the chicks hatch, the emu father fiercely defends the nest and chicks from any threat.

Chicks stay with their parents for about 18 months before becoming independent. They feed on small insects and plants, and are then taught to hunt by their emu fathers.

Emu are susceptible to internal parasites, including roundworms and lungworms.

Emus live from 5 to 10 years. They can live 15 to 20 years in captivity. The oldest emu was 38 years old.


According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the emu population consists of 630,000 to 725,000 adults.

The conservation status of the emu is of least concern, with a stable population.

where to find birds

• Visit an emu at the San Diego Zoo.
• Emus on display at the Louisville Zoo.
• The Denver Zoo has emus too!

See all 116 animals that start with E

about the author

My name is Rebecca and I have been a professional freelancer for nearly ten years. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessed with cats and pet mice.

Emu FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are emus carnivores, omnivores or herbivores?

Omnivores are the classification of emu diets. They eat both plants and small animals.

How long do emus live?

Emus live 5 to 10 years in the wild. They can live 15 to 20 years in captivity.

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What's the difference between an emu and an ostrich?

Emus are smaller than ostriches. Emus grow to about 6 feet tall, while ostriches grow to 9 feet tall. Emus weigh up to 121 pounds, while ostriches weigh up to 320 pounds. The ostrich is the largest bird in the world, and the emu is the second largest.

Emus have 3 toes on each foot, while ostriches have 2 toes on each foot.
An emu has a top speed of 31 miles per hour, while an ostrich has a top speed of 43 miles per hour.

Emus live all over Australia except Tasmania. Alternatively, ostriches live in Africa.

In taxonomy, emus belong to the family Casuarinae, and ostriches belong to the family Ostrichidae.

How tall is an emu?

Emus grow to be about 6 feet tall.

Are emus friendly?

Emus are curious birds and are not considered aggressive. However, they may become aggressive if their den or young are in danger.

Keep in mind that due to the emu's large size and strong legs, it has the ability to injure people or other animals if it feels threatened. So if you see an emu's nest or eggs, keep your distance.

What kingdom do emus belong to?

Emus belong to the animal kingdom.

What type of emu is it?

Emus belong to the class of birds.

What phylum do emus belong to?

Emus belong to the phylum Chordate.

What family do emus belong to?

Emus belong to the Casuarinaceae family.

What order do emus belong to?

Emus belong to the order Casuarinae.

What type of mulch do emus have?

Emus are covered with feathers.

What genus do emus belong to?

Emus belong to the genus Dromaius.

What type of habitat do emus live in?

Emus live in open grasslands with bushes near water.

What is the main prey of emus?

Emus eat fruit, seeds, insects and flowers.

Who are the natural enemies of emus?

Predators of emus include humans, wild dogs and birds of prey.

What are the distinctive features of emus?

Emus have huge bodies and big eyes.

How many eggs do emus lay?

Emus usually lay 11 eggs.

What are some interesting facts about emus?

Emus are the largest birds in Australia!

What is the scientific name of the emu?

The emu's scientific name is Dromaius novaehollandiae.

How fast are emus?

Emus can travel at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

How do emus give birth?

Emus lay eggs.

What is the difference between Rhea and Emu?

The main differences between Titans and Emus are their size, appearance, lifespan, speed, temperament and endangered status.

Rhea is the only member of the Rheiformes , found only in South America. The two types of wood beetles are known as the "big" wood beetle and the "small" wood beetle. Dahlias are the largest of all South American birds! The emu is the second tallest living bird after its flat-breasted relative.

What is the main difference between an emu and a cassowary?

The main differences between emus and cassowaries are appearance, range, habitat and group behavior.

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