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Emu Vs Ostrich: What’s the Difference?

Emus and Ostriches are both large and unusual birds that can seem similar for all of us who don`t get to see them regularly. Yes, both of them have long legs and necks, and those goofy faces are so very similar. But, there are more.

So what are the differences between an emu and an ostrich? Ostriches are larger and faster than emus, they come from different continents and their feather color is different.  

But, is that all? We just began to explain the differences between these two majestic, big birds, and if you want to know more, stay with me just a little longer. From this article, you will learn much about these animals and their unique characters and physical attributes. From now on you will look at them completely differently.

Defining Emus and Ostriches

Emu – The Giant From Australia


Emus originated from Australia, and there are only one species of emus. Emus have large wings but cannot fly. That doesn`t mean that wings don`t have any function. They are heavily used during mating season.

Emus are quite large birds – they can grow over 7 feet, and weigh around 150 pounds. Their feather color is dark brown and it is very hard to tell the difference between a male and a female. 

Despite their large size, emus are fast birds – they can run up to 24 mph, or sprint near 30 mph. They can thank their feet anatomy for that. They have three strong fingers that allow them to run so fast and keep their balance.

Emus are omnivores – they eat both plants and insects. In the mating periods, emus group into pairs, but females tend to search for as many males to mate with as possible.

They stayed together for around 5 months. After the female lays her eggs, they become the responsibility of the male. Father takes care of the newborn for around 6 months and stays in the same area near 2 years. Emus egg weighs around one pound and its shell is in dark green.

Ostrich – The Largest Bird On The Planet


With its height of 9 feet and weight up to 320 pounds, ostriches are the largest bird on the planet. Their natural habitat is in Africa, and there are 5 species of ostriches. When compared to rather small emu wings, ostriches with their wingspan of 6 feet have enormous wings. Despite their large wings, they can`t fly.

Despite their large size, they are fast runners – their maximum sprinting speed is 45 mph. For that, they can thank their strong legs and feet with only two fingers.

Their feather color may resemble the color of an emu – large dark brown patches, but there are also patches of white and pink on the neck, legs, and face. 

Their mating ritual is very different from the emu. Male ostriches search for as many females to mate with and to create sort of a harem. In this community, there are between 5 and 7 females and they all lay eggs in the same nest. Ostrich egg can weigh up to 3 pounds and its color is cream.

Differences Between Emus And Ostriches

Emu Ostrich
Height 7 feet 9 feet
Weight 150 pounds 320 pounds
Speed 30 mph 45 mph
Color Dark brown Dark Brown with pink and white patches on legs, face, and neck  
Number of toes Three Two
Origin Australia Africa
Life expectancy 20 years 30-50 years

FAQ About Emus And Ostriches

Are emus or ostriches more aggressive?

Both of these birds are rarely aggressive. They show their great strength when attacked or intimidated. Their legs can pack a very powerful punch that can even kill predators. There were reported deaths of people who came in contact with them but in very rare conditions.

Are emus and ostriches related?

They originated from different continents, but they are still cousins from the same animal group – ratite. All members of the ratite are large, flightless, and long-legged birds. Their close relations are the main reason why they share so many physical attributes. 

Rhea vs Emu vs Ostrich

Rhea is smaller than both Emu and an Ostrich. In height, it can go up to 5.5 feet and can weigh up to 40 kg. It resembles an Emu, but it doesn’t have bluish color on the face and neck. It originated from South America, compared to Australia and Africa, the origins of Emus and Ostriches.

Rhea’s diet is mostly vegetarian but they can often eat insects and small rodents. Like emu and an ostrich, rhea is also a polygamic animal. One male can mate between 2 and 12 females. In one nest can be anywhere between 10 and 60 eggs and males are responsible for egg incubation.

Cassowary vs Emu vs Ostrich

Cassowaries are in third place in the animal kingdom when it comes to height, and second, weigh wise. Cassowaries are smaller than ostriches both in weight and height. They can weigh up to 125 pounds, which is far less than any ostrich.

Compared to Emu, the cassowary is twice as heavy but is still smaller in height. Cassowary has dagger-sharp claws, long as 12 cm, that can be lethal in combat. Their habitat is in New Guinea, Northeast Australia, and Indonesia.


These gigantic birds are majestic and rare creatures, and we for sure don’t know enough about them. They are part of the same family of animals but are also unique in their way.

I did some research and gathered some information about them so more people would learn about them. Knowing more about these birds will help us respect them more, and understand how important they are for the whole ecosystem.

James Smith

James is a passionate explorer and the creative mind behind, a platform dedicated to unraveling captivating distinctions. With an insatiable curiosity, he uncovers hidden nuances in various aspects of life, from cultural traditions to scientific phenomena. James believes that appreciating differences fosters personal growth and societal empathy.