The Animals


Largest flightless bird with the smallest wings. Their wings can reach up to 8 inches long and are considered vestigial since they no longer serve a primary purpose.

General Info

Common Name: Emu

Scientific NameDromaius novaehollandiae

Physical Appearance: Emus are the largest flightless bird with the smallest wings. The wings are hand-sized appendages which hang in front of the leg. Sexes are similar with brown, black and white plumage. The body feathers are doubled plumed and form a loose, hair-like covering because the barbs of individual feathers do not interlock.

Length/Weight: 5-6 feet tall, both sexes, males average 81 lbs. and females average 69 lbs.

Lifespan: Approximately 20 years in the wild, 30 years in captivity.

emu on a dark background, beak facing left


Range: Emus are native throughout mainland Australia.

Habitat: They can be found in eucalyptus forests, woodlands, heartland and desert shrub lands, and sand plains.


Emu’s forage in a diurnal pattern and eat a variety of native and introduced plant species (depending on availability). They also feed on insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, and ants. Emu’s drink at infrequent intervals and have been observed to drink continuously for 10 minutes. They live in an arid environment and it could take days to find a water source.

two emus in front of stone wall on grass


Breeding season is usually May-August in Australia. Most breeding units are a single pair. Clutches average 9-12 eggs. The male incubates the eggs for 8 weeks and rarely leaves the nest to eat, drink or defecate during this time. The male become aggressive once the eggs hatch and drive females away from the young. Chicks are cared for by the male for around 6 months.

Two emu chicks standing in low green grass


Population Trend: STABLE

Efforts: Habitat protection throughout most of range. 

Emu's scaly three-toed foot in sand

Important Facts

blue emus eggs

Emus can run up to 30 mph and have up to a 9 ft stride.

Emus in Australian Aboriginal Culture are used for a source of food.

In Aboriginal mythology, it was said that the sun was made by throwing emu eggs into the sky and emus are depicted in indigenous dances.

The Emu is the national bird of Australia and is illustrated in their coat of arms.

Encyclopedia Britannica
Australia Zoo