Dromaius novaehollandiaeEmu


  • Dromaiidae


  • Wild: 10 to 20 years
  • Captivity: 30 to 40 years


  • Length: Up to 6 ½ feet
  • Weight: 65 to 100 pounds


  • Australia


  • Semi-desert to grassland and open woodland

Diet Emu

  • Wild: Seeds, fruit, grasses, insects, rodents, and lizards.
    • They require a large amount of water as well
  • Zoo: Mazuri Emu chow and fresh produce.


  • The female lays 9 to 12 eggs per clutch, up to 2 times a year in a shallow nest on the ground.
  • The male incubates the eggs and cares for the young.

Special Adaptations

  • The emu is an omnivore (eats animals and plants), eating constantly when food is available and storing the reserves as fat to be used when food is scarce.
    • The male uses these reserves when tending to the eggs and will not eat during this time.
  • To help digestion, the Emu swallows small pebbles that grind its food.

Ratite Facts

  • The emu is a ratite or flightless bird with a flat breastbone lacking a keel for attachment of flight muscles.
    • Other birds included in the ratite family include ostriches, rheas, kiwis, moas, and more.
    • In addition, emu wings are reduced in size and are not capable of enough lift to carry the bird.
    • Emus do not have flight feathers, but have evolved a downy coat.

Unique Characteristics 

  • The emu is the second largest bird in the world and can run up to 30 mph
  • Emus are also excellent swimmers
  • They live socially, sometimes grouping to form herds of several thousand birds
  • Male emus heads have a distinctive blue hue to the skin
  • Emu have 3 toes on their feet, whereas the ostrich only has 2

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concerned
  • CITES: Not Listed
  • However, two species, the Kangaroo Island emu and the King Island emu as well as one subspecies, the Tasmanian emu, became extinct in the 1800s due to hunting by humans.

Emu pecking


  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org

**All animal information is meant to be an educational resource. It may not include all the latest scientific information. Though we edit our information we cannot guarantee the accuracy of all facts presented.