20+yrs. (captive), 10-20yrs. (wild)
Ominvore. Needs water daily. Fruits, flowers, seeds, green vegetation, insects (love catepillars)
Foxes, feral dogs and pigs. Eaten by humans and raised for meat, oil and leather.
Australia for 80 million years; common over most of mainland Australia, although it avoids heavily populated areas and dense forests.
Grassy plains, open woodlands and agricultural regions.
Soft-feathered, brown to grey-brown plumage. The emu is the second largest bird in the world (up to 6 ft.) in height after its relative, the ostrich. As with all ratites, emus have small wings not used for flight, a long neck and muscular legs.
Emus are active during the daytime. These birds cannot fly, but can run up to 30 mph and are expert swimmers. Emus often travel long distances in search of food. Their calls consist of loud booming, drumming and grunting sounds that can be heard up to two kilometers away. The booming sound is created in an inflatable neck sac. While largely solitary, emus flock around food sources.
Emus form breeding pairs during the summer months and may remain together for about five months. Mating occurs during cooler months. Clutch of 9-12 eggs (sometimes as many as 20), weighing 1 lb. each (dark green/black in color). Incubation is 8 weeks. Male has several hens. He incubates the eggs in a nest of leaves grass and bark, and raises the young. He will lose 10-20 lbs. while incubating the eggs (does not eat or drink at this time but survives on stored body fat). He stands only to turn the eggs about 10 times daily and to reach morning dew. Males guard the chicks up to 18 months. Chicks hatched away from the dad do not survive because they don’t know how to eat.
ANIMAL FUN FACT!
Like dogs, emus pant to maintain their body temperature in hot weather.
Emus are important seed dispersers and contribute to Australia’s floral biodiversity.