Thursday, February 14, 2013

Emu

Dromaius novaehollandiae
The Emu is the second largest bird in the world, behind only the Ostrich. These Ratites can stand over 4ft tall at the shoulder, and with their long necks can reach over 6ft. They also have incredibly long legs that give them a stride distance of nearly 3m. These legs also pack a literal punch-- Emus can seriously injure attackers, and have been known to kick down fences!

And what about those weird feathers? Because they don't need specialized flying feathers, they grow a shaggy covering that keeps them cool and insulated from direct sunlight. And did you know that they do actually have tiny wings under there? They can flap them, but they are too small to really do anything with.

You'll find the three Emu subspecies in Australia, where they live in just about every type of environment. (Not-so-fun-fact: There were once two other Emu species. Both went extinct after the arrival of Humans). They tend to live either alone or in pairs, though they will occasionally migrate in larger groups when nesting or searching for food.

Emus forage diurnally, feeding on various plants and insects. They also have to eat rocks and charcoal, which aid in the digestion of plant matter. You might be surprised to learn that Emus do have have a number of natural, non-human predators. Dingoes and Wedge-tailed Eagles are two animals that will attack a full grown Emu, going after their exposed necks. Several other creatures will take eggs and juveniles.

Currently, Emus are abundant in mainland Australia. They are also found all around the world in captivity, and are even farmed for their meat, leather, and oil.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Australia
Size : Height up to 75in (1.9m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Struthioniformes
Family : Dromaiidae -- Genus : Dromaius -- Species : D. novaehollandiae

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