The Emu

What is it?
The emu is the largest native Australian bird. It is a bird but it cannot fly because it is so big and has very small wings.

What Does it look like?

Adults - An emu has brown and black feathers, a long neck and long, strong legs with three toes on each foot with sharp claws.
It is about 185 centimetres tall and weighs about 65 kilograms. The emu's powerful legs allow it to run very fast, up to 50 kilometres an hour.


Chicks - An emu chick is born with black and white stripes down it's body. As it gets older, the colour of the feathers change. An emu has these stripes to protect them from predators and make them hard to see in the long grass. An emu's feathers act like a heat sheild in summer, a blanket in winter and a rain coat when it is raining.



Reproduction and life cycle
A female emu can begin to breed at 2 years of age and will lay dark green oval eggs. It can take up to 2 weeks before the female has laid all her eggs. An emu can lay up to 20-50 eggs per year and can lay eggs for about 20 years.
The male emu sits on the eggs to keep them warm and will protect the eggs from predators for about 8 weeks without eating, drinking or going to the toilet. Once all the eggs have hatched the male will teach the chicks how look for food, what to eat and how to swim and run. The male will continue to protect the emu’s until they are strong enough to protect themselves, which is about 4-6 months.
An emu is fully grown at one year and can live for about 25-35 years.

Where does it live?
The emu is only found in Australia. They like to live in the bush with lots of food and tall grass to protect the chicks. Emu may move areas because of the weather, food and shelter.

What does it eat?
An emu eats fruits, seeds, growing shoots of plants and insects. They swallow small stones, which stays in their stomach to help grind up their food, which makes it easier to eat. They need to drink lots of water and will drink up to 9-18 litres a day.