What Do Emus Eat?

Marie Hale/CC-BY-2.0

Emus eat seeds, fruit, bark, nuts and stems. They also eat insects, small reptiles, amphibians and other small animals that they can handle. They have also been known to eat animal dung. Though they are mostly solitary, emus often forage for food together.

Unlike other birds, the emu lacks a crop. This is a structure in the gullet, the tube that goes from the throat to the stomach, that both stores and grinds up the bird’s food by way of small stones that the bird swallows. Instead, an emu has a modification in its throat that can hold its food for up to a half an hour before it’s released into its stomach.

The emu is able to store fat very efficiently. This allows it to go for a very long time without food and permits the male to incubate the eggs over a 48 to 56 day incubation period. During that time, he neither eats nor drinks. Even when they’re not incubating eggs, emus are subject to periods where there is little food; however, emus take care to live in areas where they have ready access to water.

Emus are large ratites, or flightless birds. They live throughout Australia in open country, including grasslands, semi-desert and open forests.