Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae

Type of Animal:

Open plains, grassland, savanna, woodland, forest (open & closed), hot arid areas, desert/sand plains, desert, semi-desert, xeric shrubland, Mediterranean scrub, farms, pastures, orchards, agricultural areas, snowfields, heathland, near cities, desert shrubland,


Largest bird in Australia, largest bird in world after 2 ostrich species, brown to gray-brown feathers, grayish to bluish heads, dark gray-black beak, black feather tips, chicks have longitudinal stripes, emus in wetter areas darker than those in drier areas

Seeds, flowers, grass shoots, grasses, roots, cassia pods/leaves, fruit, berries, insects, moth larvae, grubs, greens, vegetables, root vegetables, spiders, millipedes, lizards, snakes, small mammals, acacia plants, Casuarina plants, leaves, grains, charcoal, snails, duckweed, filamentous algae

Status in Wild:

Breeding on farms, ranches, zoos, & wildlife parks. Farmed for meat/eggs/leather/oil.

Flocks of 2-16 birds, sometimes larger. Males often raise chicks alone, occasionally w/ help from female.

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Flock
Male: 110-121 lbs
Female: 121-132 lbs
Young: 4.89-5.95 lbs

2 months 

Life Span:
10-20 years in wild, up to 35 years in captivity

Male: 5-5.2 ft
Female: 5.7-6 ft
Young: 1 ft
Body Length:
Male: 4.875 ft
Female: 5.14 ft

Tail Length:
1.4 ft, same for both sexes

Main predators of adults are dingoes, dogs, crocodiles, & wedge-tailed eagles. Foxes, cats, raptors, snakes, monitor lizards, & pigs eat chicks. Some lizards eat eggs.
Males do all incubation & most of parental care (often all, though some females stay to help out). Each female lays 5-15 eggs. Both sexes mate w/ multiple partners each season. Nests sometimes have eggs not laid by either parent due to brood parasitism.
Males can lose up to 1/3 of body weight during incubation, since he won’t leave nest, poop, eat, or drink.
Emu chicks stay w/ dad for up to 1.5 years.
Often swallows small stones aiding in grinding/digestion of plant material.

Fun Fact(s):
In captivity, known to eat glass shards, jewelry, nuts/bolts, keys, marbles, & other shiny objects.
While fairly mild-mannered, emus can defend themselves w/ powerful kick. Males can be very protective of chicks.
Great Emu War lasted from November 2-December 10, 1932 in Campion District of Western Australia & was failure. Occurred due to farmers facing hard times w/ crops & approximately 20,000 emus migrating inland for summer breeding season. Farmers relayed concerns to government officials, calling upon deputation of ex-soldiers from World War I.
1 egg can make omelet big enough to feed 4-6 adults.
Emus, Brookfield Zoo, me

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