Did you know male and female emu make different sounds?
The sound made by males is similar to a pig’s grunt while females make booming sounds like a bass drum that can be heard a mile away.
Emu are the only birds with calf muscles. What they lack in wing size (about the size of your hand) emus make up for with leg power! On top of the sheer size of their legs, a few special features help boost their strength. Emus are unique among all bird species, for example, in having a gastrocnemius. This powerful muscle, located on the back of the lower leg, forms part of what's known as the calf muscle in humans.
In nature, it takes a male emu 60 days to hatch the eggs! That's right, it is the male that sits, hatches, and cares for the chicks. During this time he doesn't move, even to eat or drink. He stays with the young for two years, defending them and teaching them how to find food.
Emu enjoy company from other emu BEST of course and thrive in a mob but can also bond with other barnyard species especially if raised with them. Keep in mind they can step on smaller birds and stomp on predators that enter their enclosure.
Emu feathers are like no other! Individual emu feathers have a loose and simple design. Just like hairs, feathers grow from follicles. Most birds have one feather per follicle, but the emu grows a double-shafted feather from each follicle. Barbs found on a typical bird feather are closely knit, but an emu feather’s barbs are widely spaced and don't have the usual hooks that attach to the other barbs. Instead, each barb hangs loosely and gives emu feathers a hairlike appearance. Other ratites share this feathery design. Emu feathers are less water-resistant than other birds' feathers. Its tail feathers are not so soft. Instead, they are stiff, and the bird can rattle them to scare off predators, such as dingoes. When shaken they sound similar to a maraca!
Emu have protective nictating membranes on their eyes. The membrane over each eye protects them from dust. Nictating means blinking. The eye membrane is called a third eyelid, a haw, a plica semilunaris, or a membrane nictitans.
A nictating membrane is a transparent or translucent eyelid. The eyelid membrane not only protects the eye from dust, it also moistens the eye and cleans away any dust or dirt.
Normal upper and lower eyelids move up and down. The emu’s nictating eyelid moves horizontally, side to side, across the eyeball. It moves from the inside edge of the eye to the outside edge of the eye.
Rocks that have been in the digestive system of an animal are called gastroliths, which means "stomach stones." Any kind of rock can become a gastrolith, all it has to do is be swallowed by something. Emu need rocks regularly to help break down their food. If they are in a sandy or all-grassy area without rocks you can buy bags of small river pebbles to supplement. Some rocks break down completely before they pass them but generally, you will find little piles like the one pictured.
Emu have been living in Australia for a very long time! Their ancestors, the Dromornithids, roamed the land when Dinosaurs lived; and they are even thought by some scientists to be “Living Dinosaurs”, as they have many similar or even identical features to their Dinosaur relatives!
Emu eggs are unique in color, size, shape, texture, and weight. New layers may lay smaller eggs at first, then as they age their eggs may increase in size. Some emu just always lay larger eggs. After some time you will probably be able to identify who laid the egg just by looking at it. This can be very helpful since emu do like to share nests. Emu eggs on average are 13x9 cm and 400-700 grams. In our experience, smaller eggs have just as much chance of hatching as larger eggs do.
The dark green color of the emu egg is due to the presence of biliverdin (part of the bile pathway in humans and other animals). The color serves as camouflage in the grass where the emu lays her eggs. Green poop in females is a very good sign that she is getting geared up to start laying. They can begin laying as early as 18 months old, but generally it is between 2-3 years. There have been reports of lone females laying without a mate, however this is extremely rare. You can expect 30-50 eggs per female per season.
Emu In The Sky constellation, created by the dark clouds of the Milky Way and spaces between stars has been observed by Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Depending on the time of year, Emu in the Sky is oriented to either appear sitting or running. According to Indigenous legend, emus were more than just birds. They were creator spirits that soared through the skies above, looking over the land. These birds were incredibly helpful, so it makes sense that Emu in the Sky helped Indigenous people predict what was happening in the world around them.
Iodine/Qtips for cleaning umbilical area, styptic powder for nail/foot bleeds if sending off for blood sample, Vitamin B complex/B12 for their water, CoraCue if a chick needs an extra boost, and velcro leg bands if hatching multiples. I would also have Vit B injectable, 3 cc syringe, 20g 1/2" needles, and Terramycin eye ointment on hand (sometimes multiples like to eye peck one another).
Vent sexing can be tricky depending on what age you check. If you choose to vent sex it is best to check before day three or after day ten (the boys like to hide).
IQ Bird Testing is quick and easy and you don't have to risk injury. Just send off the shell membrane, feather, or a small amount of blood. If you're doing shell you'll want to put it in a zip lock but leave it open to air dry so it doesn't mildew. All you will be sending is a small piece of the shell membrane (white removable part). Hang on to the rest just in case you need to resend it.
The walls should be tall enough to keep out predators (including house pets/small children). The very bottom layer should be easy to clean and NON slip. Make sure your heat source is triple-secured to prevent accidental fires. The brooder temp should be no more than 90-91 degrees at the hottest point (monitor this with a thermometer.) Emu feathers or a small stuffed animal are comforting right after hatching if you don't have multiples. However, everything should be removed that could potentially be a trip hazard once they begin walking. Their enclosure should grow with them. They must have room to exercise their legs. They naturally like to walk their parameters. Food/water placed in the middle of their enclosure is less likely to be slipped in or knocked over.
*Non-slip garage mats/stall mats
A white towel under their food and water is helpful as it allows them to spot their food easily. You can scatter it on the towel and point to it, just like Dad would in nature. Emu are very attracted to color and sound. A shiny parrot bell hung a little higher than they can reach will encourage them to stand tall and stretch their necks.
Be careful with puppy pads because of the chemicals used in them, adult hospital pads are safer. Pads are slippery because they offer no grip for their soft baby toes. Shavings are dusty and chicks could also potentially eat them and become impacted.
*Garage mats and Astroturf/fake grass are ideal and easy to hose off, just make sure the "grass" doesn't shed.
Rooster Booster (RB) has several products. Make sure you are getting the RB pelleted vitamin and mineral supplement NOT RB Poultry Cell or RB Liquid B12 with Vit K. RB Vitamins & Electrolytes w/ lactobacillus is only used for times that dehydration is suspected, it is high in salt and potassium, and not intended for everyday use. Chicks do not eat/drink for the first several days, this is normal and should NOT be a concern. Remember they will be getting their nutrients from the yolk sac for up to 5 days.
Emu chicks sometimes need encouragement to start eating and drinking. In the wild they would learn this from Dad.
Tip: Tiny flecks of kale in their crumble/water and a little ducky help spark their interest.
6 full day experiment on a smaller egg that got a little "too wet" (or so I thought). Just shows how resilient they truly are.