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What is an Emu?


WHAT IS AN EMU?

Emu are members of the Ratite family of flightless birds, which have small or underdeveloped wings. Emu, the world’s second largest living bird have survived 80 million years in their native Australia where they are found in the deserts, forests and on the plains.

Emu were originally imported to the United States from 1930 to 1950 as exotic zoo stock. In 1960, the Emu was designated Australia's national bird, and an Australian government ban on exporting the Emu has been in effect for over 30 years.

Emu are curious and docile. They are about 10-inches tall at birth, with black and white stripes. As 3-month-old chicks, they turn nearly solid black and change into a tan, brown and black mixture as adults, some having a bluish neck. The feathers are downy, with no stiff vein running through the center. Emu, when mature, stand 5 to 6 feet tall, weigh up to 150 lbs. and are long-lived (up to 30 yrs. recorded by zoos). Emu are strong runners reaching 60 km/hr. in short bursts taking 9 ft. strides.

Emu adapt well from temperature extremes in excess of 100 degrees to below zero. No diseases have yet been diagnosed as common to the species. They can exist on a simple diet and require alot of water, drinking 2 to 4 gallons daily. They also will play in water or mud.

Emu are quite prolific, each mature breeding pair producing 20 to 50 eggs per year. The eggs are dark avocado green, about 5 in. long and weigh on average 600 grams. The hen lays an egg every third day during the laying season ( Nov. - May). In the wild, the male incubates the eggs and raises the chicks. The eggs hatch in 52 days, producing a chick which will walk within hours and run within days. The chicks achieve rapid growth, gaining their height by one year of age. After six months, the birds have shed most of their chick feathers for the fluffy, elegant feathers of the adult. For most climate conditions, the birds need shelter during the first few months. The birds are a very hardy and adaptable bird.

 

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