This is one of the largest birds on the planet, and because of their extremely strong legs, one of the most dangerous bird species! In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting facts about emus, one of the most fascinating creatures in the world!
These birds are native to the country down under
The emu is one of the most important cultural icons in their native country of Australia, almost at an equal level as the kangaroo. They can be found all across the country even though their population has drastically decreased near the east coast. There used to be subspecies living in some of Australia’s islands as well such as Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, and King Island, but these have gone extinct since the Europeans landed in Australia in 1788. This also means that the emu is the last extant member of the genus Dromaius, a group of ratites native to Australia.
Their original name was a reference to another dangerous bird
When European explorers visited the western coast of Australia in the late 17th century, they were first seen by a Dutch captain named Willem de Vlamingh on one of his expeditions.
When the first Europeans settled in Australia nearly a century later, these birds were named the “New Holland cassowary,” a reference to the most dangerous birds in the world and fellow ratite the cassowary. The genus Dromaius was named shortly after and was derived from a Greek word that means “racer,” a reference to the speed these birds can reach while running.
The male emu takes care of the incubation and the young
Perhaps one of the most intriguing facts about emus is that the male emu mostly takes care of the breeding process after the female has laid her eggs, which she does 2 or 3 times every year.
Breeding pairs are formed between December and January when the female starts luring in a lucky male by courting him in various ways. The male builds the nest and they remain together for up to 5 months. The male incubates the eggs for about 56 days. For the entire duration of this period, he hardly eats or drinks. When the eggs finally hatch, he also takes care of nurturing the young.
This bird appears on Australia’s Coat of Arms
The importance of the emu as a cultural icon in Australia is emphasized by the fact that this animal has been included in the coat of arms of the country. It’s therefore unofficially considered as the national bird of the country.
The bird has also been featured on various Australian postage stamps and various Australian companies have added the emu to their emblem. Because of their wide distribution in mainland Australia, we’re also happy to mention that the emu is far from endangered and listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List with over 600,000 individual birds still roaming around today!
Only 2 types of birds are heavier than emus
One of the most remarkable facts about emus is that they aren’t the heaviest birds on the planet. Both the two species of ostriches and two heavier species of cassowaries weigh more than the slender emu. Adult emus weigh anywhere between 18 and 60 kilos with the males weighing 31.5 kilos and the females 37 kilos on average. The main reason why the females are heavier isn’t just their height but also because they are a lot wider around the rump.
They only have 3 toes but very powerful legs
There’s a reason why ratites are considered to be the most dangerous birds on the planet, and that’s because they all have extremely long and sharp claws. The bad temper of the cassowary makes them a lot more dangerous, but emus can cause serious damage too when they feel threatened. They have 3 toes on each foot, which doesn’t help them with stability, but the fact that they have a length of up to 15 centimeters turns these into very powerful weapons.
They can run faster than Usain Bolt
Emus can not only travel long distances to find food, but they also have the ability to tun extremely fast. They can run faster than the fastest human being in history, Usain Bolt, who once reached a top speed of 44.72 kilometers per hour. The top speed of emus is estimated to be up to 50 kilometers per hour, which is indeed faster than Usain. It would be nice to see a race between the two to confirm this fact.