How Much Space Does an Emu Need?

what is the emu

This is especially vital if the emu fathers will incubate the eggs. At the least, a pair of emus need 3000 square feet of space. However, some breeders raise emu pairs in 1000 square feet of space. For the next 8 weeks after the eggs have been laid, the male will sit on the nest, carefully turning the eggs around 10 times each day.

what is the emu

Emus range over large areas, foraging on fruits, seeds, plant shoots, small animals, animal droppings, and insects. They mate and nest over the Australian winter, and it’s not always a loving affair—­­females have been known to fight viciously over unpaired males. The common emu is the only survivor of several forms exterminated by European settlers. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) lists the common emu as a species of least concern. Ecological studies estimate that there are more than 630,000 adult emus and note that emu populations are likely stable.

Amazing Facts About Emus

The nest, made of leaves, grass and bark is a shallow depression next to low brush. During incubation, which lasts 56 days, the male doesn’t eat, drink or defecate. Once the male starts sitting, most females leave the territory, sometimes pairing with other males and laying further clutches.

what is the emu

At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, the emu is fed ratite pellets and occasionally greens such as kale and romaine. The Emu is common in mainland Australia but will avoid heavily populated areas, arid land and dense forests. They can survive in most habitats throughout Australia but most common locations are sclerophyll forests and savanna woodlands and grasslands. Emus have large multi folded nasal passages for normal breathing in cooler weather. Emus have strong long legs and although they cannot fly, they can run at speeds of 50 kilometres per hour (31 miles per hour).

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A few stay to defend the male on the nest, using their loud, booming call. Males are aggressive when the chicks hatch, driving the remaining females away and attacking anything else that approaches the nest. Newly hatched chicks weigh 15.5 to 17.6 ounces (440 to 500 grams). The male stays with the chicks for about five to seven months. Lost chicks from other broods are allowed to join another male’s group, if they are smaller than his own offspring.

  1. Besides, when they are startled or being chased, they may try to jump over the fence.
  2. For the next 8 weeks after the eggs have been laid, the male will sit on the nest, carefully turning the eggs around 10 times each day.
  3. This flightless bird has small wings relative to the size of its body.
  4. Some farmers see the birds as beneficial because they eat the burrs that entangle sheep wool as well as caterpillars and grasshoppers.
  5. Emus also have an impressive vertical leap, which can quickly carry the large birds up to 6.8 feet (2.1 meters) off the ground — all without the help of wings.

An emu father may lose a third of his body weight while incubating his eggs. He becomes aggressive once his chicks hatch, chasing away any females in his territory (including the mother) and attacking any perceived threat to his nest. Female emus compete for access to males, while males build the nest and wait to be courted. Once a pair has mated, the female lays a clutch of eggs in the male’s nest over several days. Their necks and legs are long, but their wings are tiny, reduced to less than 8 inches (20 centimeters).

Ensure the area is well-fenced; do not use barbed-wire fencing – electric fencing or field fencing are better options. Ordinarily, they are fine roaming around in an open space. But if the sun gets too hot, it rains heavily, or the weather becomes too cold, they may be exposed to weather hazards.

When food is abundant, an emu stores large amounts of fat, and is able to use this while looking for more food. Birds may lose up to 50 percent of their weight while searching for food. Emus pattern their movements to track with recent rainfall. They appear to depend mainly on the sight of rain-bearing clouds but sound cues from thunder and the smell of wet ground may also be involved. The emu is the second largest living bird and the largest bird found in Australia.

Its long, powerful legs, though, allow it to run up to about 30 miles (50 kilometers) per hour. Each emu foot has three forward-facing toes that allow it to grip the ground, thrusting the bird forward. A powerful kick is also handy for keeping predators at bay. Emus are farmed for their oil, leather and meat, however, emus are common birds with an estimated population of around 725,000. Emu populations vary from decade to decade depending on rainfall.

Relationship with humans

But beyond that, emus are pretty energetic, so they love running and jumping around. Of course, they need ample space to run and jump all over the place. Emus are about 2-3 times the size of ducks and chickens, so your regular coop will not make do as a shelter for them. The emu is an important cultural icon of Australia, appearing on the coat of arms and various coinages. The bird features prominently in Indigenous Australian mythologies.

The emus began to damage swaths of wheat plus the surrounding fences, which meant rabbits and other animals could get in. What they lack in wing size emus make up for with leg power. On top of the sheer size of their legs, a few special features help boost their strength. Emus are unique among all bird species, for example, in having a gastrocnemius. This powerful muscle, located on the back of the lower leg, forms part of what’s known as the calf muscle in humans.

An emu shelter should also contain a heat source to keep the birds warm in winter. Then in summer, there should be an accessible water source. If there are no trees in the provided space, you may want to create a shed or similar shelter for your emus.

Because young emus consume large quantities of caterpillars and grasshoppers, and adults eat burrs that entangle sheep wool, some farmers and ranchers find emus helpful. However, emus may stamp down wheat fields, eat large quantities of grain and jump over barbed wire fences. Breeding pairs form in the summer months of December and January and mating occurs in the cooler months of May and June. An Emus breeding behaviour incorporates male incubation, this is because the male experiences hormone changes.

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