154. Emu

Emu is the largest bird, native to Australia. It is the second largest, extant, flightless bird by height, Ostrich being the largest. Emu is soft feathered and brown in color.

Emu can grow to a height of 1.50 to 1.90 meters. Its shoulders can be 1.00 to 1.30 meters wide. It can weigh anything from 18 K.G up to 48 K.G! It has a long neck, long legs, small wings and a highly developed pelvic limb musculature.

Emu can run long distances at a fast trot. It can reach the speed of 50 kmph, if necessary. It has three toes in each leg and a soft bill adapted for grazing. Emu avoids highly populated areas, arid zones and dense forests.

Emu is nomadic in nature. It can travel long distances in search of food. It feeds on a variety of plants and insects like grasshoppers, ladybirds, crickets, caterpillars, moth larvae and ants.

Emu lives for 10 to 20 years in the wild but can live longer in captivity. The male emu incubates the large, dark green colored, thick shelled eggs . It can go on without food for weeks while incubating. The male protects the growing chicks for up to seven months and teaches them how to find food and fend for themselves.

Emu calls consist of loud booming, drumming and grunting, which can be heard 2 kilometers away. Emus have been seen sitting in water. They can also swim, if necessary.

Emus which inhabited Tasmania, have become extinct after the European settlement in 1788. Human activities influence the existing species. Emus are farmed for their meat, leather and oil.

Visalakshi Ramani


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