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About Emu (Click-Readmore)


Scientific name: Dromaius novaehollandiae
: Aves
Order: Casuariiformes
Mass: 36 – 40 kg
Conservation status: Least Concern (Population stable)


Emus are soft-feathered, brown, flightless birds with long necks and legs, and can reach up to 1.9 metres in height. The neck of the Emu is pale blue and shows through its sparse feathers. They have grey-brown plumage of shaggy appearance, the shafts and the tips of the feathers are black. Solar radiation is absorbed by the tips, and the inner plumage insulates the skin. This prevents the birds from overheating, allowing them to be active during the heat of the day. A unique feature of the emu feather is the double rachis emerging from a single shaft. Both of the rachis have the same length, and the texture is variable, the area near the skin is rather furry, but the more distant ends resemble grass.

Distribution and habitat

Emus found primarily in Australia, but also in New Guinea, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, and the Philippines. Emus beat the heat in hot, arid habitats. Their greyish-to-brownish body feathers provide almost complete protection from solar radiation. Though equipped with this natural sunscreen, they also live in grasslands, savannas, and forests, preferring areas with access to standing water. Emus predominately travel in pairs, and while they can form large flocks, this is a typical social behaviour that arises from the common need to move towards a new food source.

Behaviour and ecology

Emus are diurnal birds and spend their day foraging, preening their plumage with their beak, dust bathing and resting. They are generally gregarious birds apart from the breeding season, and while some forage, others remain vigilant to their mutual benefit. They are able to swim when necessary, although they rarely do so unless the area is flooded or they need to cross a river. Emus begin to settle down at sunset and sleep during the night.


Emus forage in a diurnal pattern and eat a variety of native and introduced plant species. The diet depends on seasonal availability with such plants as Acacia, Casuarina and grasses being favoured. They also eat insects and other arthropods, including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, cockroaches, ladybirds, and cotton-boll moth larvae, ants, spiders and millipedes. This provides a large part of their protein requirements.


Mating pairs stay together for up to five months, after which females lay large, emerald-green eggs in expansive ground nests. The males incubate the eggs for about seven weeks without drinking, feeding, defecating, or leaving the nest. The females, meanwhile, have often moved on, sometimes mating with a different male in the same season. Chicks stay with dad for about four months, until they are able to eat on their own.