Emus and ostriches are two of the most well-known birds in the world. They both have unique features that make them stand out from other animals, but there are also some similarities between these two creatures.
Ostriches and Emus are ratites.
Ratites are a group of flightless birds that includes ostriches, emus, rheas, and cassowaries. These birds are all from the same family, and they share many similarities. They are all large, flightless, and have long necks.
Ratites also have a small brain-to-body ratio, which means that they are not very intelligent.
Ostriches and emus are both flightless birds.
Differences Between Ostriches vs Emus
Ostriches and emus are two of the most well-known ratites. However, there are also some differences between these two birds.
1. Ostriches are Bigger
Ostriches can grow to measure 1.7 – 2.8 metres (5.5 – 9.4 feet) in height and weigh 130 – 150 kilograms.
The emu can grow to be as tall as 2 metres (6.5 feet) in height (1 – 1.3 metres at the shoulder) and weigh up to 45 kilograms (99 pounds). Male and female emus are similar in appearance although females are generally larger.
2. Ostriches Are Faster
Their long legs enable the Ostrich to run at speeds of over 65 kilometres per hour (40 miles per hour).
Emus also have strong long legs and although they cannot fly, they can run at speeds of 50 kilometres per hour (31 miles per hour).
3. Ostriches only have two toes
Although Emus resemble Ostriches, emus have a longer, lower profile and 3 toes on each foot (Ostriches have only 2 toes on each foot). The closest relative to the emu is a Cassowary, another flightless bird.
4. Ostriches eat Lizards
Ostriches are omnivorous and will eat almost anything they can find. They eat a variety of foods from seeds and plant matter to lizards and frogs. Ostriches have no teeth and therefore often swallow pebbles to help with digestion in the gizzard.
Food collects in the crop then slides down the neck in a bolus. The ostrich has intestines 14 metres long so that it gets the most out of the tough plants it eats.
An Emus omnivorous diet consists of grasses, flowers, fruit, berries, seeds from the Mulga shrub, various plants and insects including crickets, grasshoppers, ladybirds, caterpillars, ants and moth larvae.
They also require stones and pebbles to assist the digestion of plant material.
5. Emu Eggs are Smaller
An average Emu egg is large, thick-shelled and green in color, it can measure 5 inches long and 3 inches wide and weigh up to 900 grams.
Ostrich eggs are around 16 centimetres in length, weigh 3 pounds and are glossy and cream in color. They are the largest bird eggs of all.
6. They Live on Different Continents
The Emu is found in many parts of Australia and New Guinea. It is Australia’s largest bird and the only member of the Genus: Dromaius. The Emu is common in mainland Australia but will avoid heavily populated areas, arid land and dense forests.
They can survive in most habitats throughout Australia but most common locations are sclerophyll forests and savanna woodlands and grasslands.
The Ostrich is native to the savannas and grasslands of South Africa. It has also been introduced to Australia. The Ostriches preferred habitats are savanna, scrub, grasslands and semi-deserts. Ostriches enjoy water and often take baths where water sources are available. They are good swimmers too.
7. Ostriches have bare necks
Ostriches have long, bare necks, a flat, broad beak with a rounded tip and large eyes. A male Ostrich has a black plumage with white wing tips, however, females and chicks have a brownish, more duller plumage which helps them camouflage.
Emus have soft, long, brown feathers on their plumage which has a shaggy appearance and shorter downy feathers on their heads.
The shafts and tips of their feathers are black and the energy from the sun is absorbed through the tips and the loose-packed inner plumage insulates their skin from the heat allowing the emu to be active during the heat of the day.
8. Ostriches Live Longer
The lifespan of an Ostrich can be up to 75 years with around 50 years being typical.
The lifespan of an emu is between 10 and 12 years in the wild.
Ostrich vs Emu Comparison Table
|Size||1.8 metres||2.8 metres|
|Weight||45 kg||130 kg|
|Speed||30 mph||45 mph|
|Appearance||Both male and females have brown plumage||Males have black plumage with white feathers, females grey-brown plumage|
|Feet||Has 3 toes||Has 2 toes|
|Habitat||Australia – forests and wooded savannas||Africa – Savannas – Semi-Desert locations|
|Eggs||1-1.5 lb large green blue eggs||3lb large cream white eggs|
|Lifespan||10-15 years||50+ years|