Emus are large flightless birds native to Australia. They are the second largest bird in the world after the ostrich, with which they are sometimes confused. An adult emu can reach 2 m (6.6 ft) in height and they are known for being extremely fast runners capable of reaching speeds of 50 km/h (31 mph). They are well known for being able to go without eating for weeks and for traveling long distances to find food. Let’s find out more about the diet of these large birds.
What do emus eat?
The largest part of an emu’s diet is made up of native and introduced plants and their diet changes depending on which plant is available at the time. They also consume many different insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets, moth larvae, ants and ladybugs. Emus will also eat fruit and other agricultural crops such as wheat. The seeds that emus eat pass through the digestive system are remain viable and this means that emu’s play a very important part in dispersing seeds from native plants.
Interestingly, emus also consume rocks which grind up the food in their gizzard (specialized stomach). Emus has also been known to consume a number of other manmade objects for this purpose such as glass, metal (including car keys and nuts and bolts) and jewelery.
Emus have also been observed eating charcoal, but scientists are yet to discover why they do this!
Did you know?
Emus do not drink frequently, but instead drink large amounts at one time. They have been known to drink for 10 minutes at one sitting!
During the 1930’s and 40’s emus in the Australian state of Queensland were responsible for spreading the unwanted cactus plant.