CLASS: Aves ORDER: Casuariiformes FAMILY: Dromaius GENUS SPECIES: Dromaius novaehollandaie
HABITAT: Open semi-arid plains, bush steppes
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Emu have an average height of 5 ½ - 6’ and they normally weigh about 120 pounds. They are flightless birds with a bulky body. Their plumage is gray-brown with black tips. The feathers on the neck are short revealing their blue skin. They eyes are yellow-brown to dark and the bill is brown to black in color. They have brown to black legs with large-toed feet.
SOCIAL STRUCTURE: Gregarious except during breeding season when they
spend their time in pairs.
ACTIVE TIME: Diurnal
Wild: Primarily plants, fruits, and berries. Also enjoy insects and are fond of caterpillars.
Zoo: Pelleted ratite diet and occasional spinach.
BEHAVIOR: Emu undergo seasonal migrations. They make many sounds when they feel threatened. Both sexes hiss and grunt. The males utter a series of guttural notes while the females’ calls are resonant and booming. Both sexes are very protective of their hatchlings. They normally travel in small flocks, except during breeding season, when they go about in pairs.
REPRODUCTION: Emu reach sexual maturity at the age of two. They breed in the winter and will lay their eggs in autumn through February or March. Their nest consists of a trampled bed of grass, bark or leaves made near a tree or bush. The clutch size is usually 7 – 10 eggs, which are dark green in color and have a granular surface. The incubation period is 8 weeks and is done solely by the male. The male also cares for the young after they hatch.
• Emu can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
• They can swim well.
• The word emu comes from the Portuguese “ema” meaning crane.
• Tend to be very docile to people they like and very aggressive to those they don’t like.
RELATIONSHIP WITH PEOPLE: Emu are now captive bred for their meat, leather, eggs, and oil.