What Do Emus Eat?A Comprehensive Guide

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The biggest birds in the world are the giant ostrich and cassowary, with the emu standing at a height of 1.5 meters (5 feet) and a weight of over 45 kg (100 pounds).

There is just one extant (living) species of emu, and it is split into three subspecies that live in the northern, southeast, and southwest regions of Australia. Given their size, emus must consume a lot of food, but what exactly do they eat?

Being omnivorous, emus spend a significant amount of their life searching for food. They mostly eat grasses of all sorts, acacia, and casuarina, along with insects including ants, crickets, and cockroaches. Numerous other insects and arthropods, such as caterpillars, spiders, beetles, centipedes, and millipedes, are also consumed by emus. There are 43 plant species known to constitute part of their diet.

Emus are not stationary birds, even in spite of their size and lack of capacity to fly. They are equally adept at sprinting long distances and can reach speeds of up to 50 km/h (30 mph), much like ostriches. Within their area, they are known to be migratory, often following rains to find food and water, and they are capable of covering hundreds of kilometers in a single day.

Continue reading to find out more about how these enormous, flightless birds eat and forage!

What is the natural diet of emus?

Emus consume both meat and vegetation since they are omnivores. Emus ingest almost any non-poisonous bug they can capture, including cockroaches, ants, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, caterpillars, and different larvae, due to their relatively high protein requirement (15–20% of their diet). Additionally, they eat arthropods like millipedes, centipedes, and spiders.

Although emus eat a vast array of vegetation, their diet varies seasonally and geographically. They are believed to eat mostly grasses, acacia, and casuarina as their main plant foods. 43 different species, comprising a broad variety of seeds, fruits, and shoots, have been seen to constitute their food source.

When food is scarce, which is often the consequence of drought, emus may travel hundreds of kilometers in quest of rain. They may starve for weeks and lose up to 50% of their body weight while looking for plentiful eating grounds.

When emus do manage to locate food, they usually overeat for many days in order to accumulate significant amounts of fat. Emus have a unique oesophagus that allows them to swallow big amounts of food even though they do not have a crop as other birds do.

The Emus and Their Splinters

Emus eat pebbles to aid in the digestion of food in their gizzards, which is crucial since a large portion of their diet consists of plant foods that are difficult to digest. The emus’s specialized muscular organ of the digestive system, the gizzard, uses stones known as gastroliths to aid in the grinding down of food. The gizzard functions much like a mortar and pestle.

Emus can swallow stones up to 45 g (1.6 oz) in size, and their gizzards may hold up to 745 g (1.642 lb) of stones at a time!

What winter food do emus consume?

Insect life is less abundant in Australia than it is in the summer because ground frosts and lows as low as five degrees Celsius are prevalent during the winter months. Emu winter diets are higher in plants. During the winter, emus will constantly search for warmer, more fertile areas, mainly towards the south, and their diet will become more plant-based than insect or meat-based.

What is the daily emu’s intake?

Because they do not always eat at the same time, emus may go weeks or even days without food.

According to reports, emus in captivity eat between 680 and 1kg (1.5 and 2 lbs) of food every day, but since they gorge themselves whenever they get the chance, this might vary greatly in the wild.

Eat what fruits, emus?

Emus will likely only come across the lowest-lying fruits, such as berries, in the environment. Many types of citrus fruits, including cherries, strawberries, apricots, and others, do grow in the same areas as emus do, and if they are otherwise unreachable, they will probably scavenge them from the ground.

Emu kept in captivity are given a wide variety of fruits, such as melons, grapes, kiwis, berries, apples, and citrus fruits.

Are emus meat eaters?

As omnivores, emus often include both plant-based items and meat in their meals.

Emus may capture tiny lizards, snakes, and other reptiles in addition to rodents and other small animals because they are quicker and more agile than they seem to be. They also eat a wide variety of arthropods and insects. They will really consume any flesh that isn’t harmful. However, this does not imply that they love meat; emus are rather finicky and probably prefer insects to meet their protein needs.

Do emus eat snakes?

Animals that may harm them, such as snakes, frighten emus. They could still consume little snakes, but it’s not very probable.

Are emus fed grass?

Emus often eat a lot of grass and bushes, particularly if they are the only nutrient-rich foods available. Emu preferences tend to be for lush green grasses and other more succulent kinds over dry ones. Emus often burrow under the surface to attack healthy plant shoots and roots; if left unchecked, they have the potential to completely destroy industrial crops, including wheat.

Are emus preying on other birds?

Since they don’t consume other birds, emus have difficulty capturing them. While they are sometimes given chicken eggs in captivity, they are not known to eat the eggs of other birds or reptiles.

Eat chicken, emus?

When housed in captivity, emus are often fed leftover meat, particularly chicken. Although high-protein feed is the main staple diet for emus kept in captivity, they will consume a wide variety of foods and may even grow to love certain meats, fruits, seeds, or other things.

What makes emus consume stones?

The gizzard, a specialized organ present in all birds’ digestive tracts, is unique to emus.

Since emus and other birds lack teeth, they must swallow their food whole, which would severely disrupt their digestive systems if they had a gizzard. This powerful, muscular organ aids in crushing and squeezing food that is difficult to digest.

Grat, sand, and stones are actively swallowed by a large number of birds, which increases the gizzard’s capacity for crushing and grinding. Since the stones degrade and are expelled over time, it seems that birds have an instinctive understanding of when to ingest more stones to replenish their supply.

Foods that are difficult or difficult to digest may pass via the gizzard and stomach. Emu gizzards are noticeably huge and muscular, most likely due to the fact that they eat a wide variety of hardy plants in their diet. Emus often swallows stones, some of which may weigh up to 45g. At any one moment, their gizzards may hold up to 745g (1.642 lb) of stones and grit.

In Australia, what do emus eat?

There is just one species of emu and it only exists in Australia; all other emu species have been driven extinct by hunting. Australia’s emus are mostly found in the north, southeast, and southwest, and their diets differ depending on the area.

Emu will graze whatever vegetation they can in drier, more dry settings, but they may spend weeks without eating. Emus will devour everything from berries and seeds to ants, cockroaches, and grasshoppers whenever they locate a food-rich location. A significant amount of their plant diet consists of casuarina and acacia. Rather than dry grasses, they choose nutrient-rich, green shoots.

What food do captive emus consume?

About 14–17% of the protein in adult emu feed formulae comes from non-medicated chicken pellets. Leafy green veggies, fruits, seeds, grains like oats, mealworms, dried crickets, meat leftovers, and any other nutritious food that the emus consumes may all be added to diets to enhance their nutritional value. Although emus have a broad variety of tastes, they may become choosy when given a lot to choose from, so don’t be shocked if some of them go uneaten!

What consumes emus?

In fact, emus are known to kill other predators including opossums, bobcats, wild dogs, and snakes. They are ferocious enemies. With their formidable claws and very powerful, muscular legs, together with their swiftness, they provide a formidable foe to other predators.

Dingoes, crocodiles, and gangs of wild dogs may sometimes consume emus. Emu chicks have been reported to be a target for wedge-tailed eagles.

What feeds young emus?

Insects, plants, and seeds are the main foods that young emus eat in the wild. The food sources that are plentiful and accessible in their environment determine their diet. Baby emus raised in captivity are fed a specialized diet designed to meet their nutritional needs and promote healthy growth.

What beverage do emus consume?

Emus consume water, just as most other birds do, and they need a lot of it to stay hydrated. In general, mature emus will drink between nine and eighteen liters of water daily. Larger amounts are often consumed all at once as opposed to frequently throughout the day.

Emu needs plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and to help with meal digestion since they often dwell in warm settings.

Which meals are the favorites of emus?

It would be contingent upon the emu! Emus can physically consume almost any food since they are adaptable omnivores. However, they are also sometimes known to be finicky eaters. Among the most popular foods are fruits and leafy greens. Although they can digest both, most emus prefer softer meals to hard, dry, or rough grasses.

What foods are indigestible to emus?

Emus need a well-balanced omnivorous diet that consists of an abundance of nutritious green vegetables, grasses, shoots, and seeds, along with a substantial amount of protein that naturally occurs in insects. In addition to avoiding toxic insects and reptiles, emus do not thrive on an excessively meat-based or high-fat diet.

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind Birdsology.com. My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, Birdsology.com is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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