WHAT DO EMU'S EAT?




The emu is quite a fussy eater, preferring foods that are rich in nutrients, such as seeds, fruit and young fruit. Emu's will avoid grass and old leaves even if there is nothing else to eat! As part of their general diet they will eat a variety of both native and introduced plant species. Of course seasonal availability will need to be taken into consideration during which they will also eat insects, including grasshoppers and crickets, lady birds, soldier and salt-bush caterpillars, Bogong and cotton-boll moth larvae and ants. Emus will also take feed on insects, small rodents and lizards when they are plentiful.

Image credit - Benjamint444
There is also evidence of preferential choice within emu groups.  In Western Australia, wandering emus have been observed to eat seeds from Acacia aneura until it rains, after which they eat fresh grass shoots and caterpillars. In the winter this same group of emus went onto feed on the leaves and pods of Cassia until spring, after which they fed predominately on grasshoppers and the fruit of Santalum acuminatum.

Emu's do not have teeth and so they will swallow small pebbles to act as gizzard stones (gastroliths). These help the emu digest its food as they grind up the food in the stomach making it easier to absorb the nutrients. These pebbles can be quite large - up to 46 grams in weight!

Because the emu's diet is so nutritious, it will grow quickly and breed in large numbers. It is almost constantly on the move, covering hundreds of kilometres searching for food once supplies have been exhausted from one area.

Emu food facts

Image credit - Larry Rana
1. Emu's can have as much as 750 g of gastroliths in their gizzard at any one time.

2. Emu's have been known to eat charcoal, however research has yet to ascertained why.

3. Captive emus have been witnessed eating shards of glass, marbles, car keys, jewellery and nuts and bolts.

4.  Wild emu's are opportunistically nomadic and will travel long distances to find food. While their diet is varied, they have been known to go for weeks without food

5. Emu's serve as an important agent for the dispersal of large viable seeds, which contributes to floral biodiversity

Benjamint444 distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only as published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Text:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License
Larry Rana file is a work of a United States Department of Agriculture employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

For related articles click onto the following links:
Peacock Facts
What do Emu's eat?
What is an Emu?

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