My Experience Raising Emus (They Make Great Pets!)

It's Best to Raise Baby Emu vs. Purchasing an Adult Emu

raising-emu

I embarked on raising emus a couple years ago. I wanted to hatch one so bad because they are “cute,” however it is more than just cuteness that leads one to raising emus. The emu is the largest native bird in Australia, and there are three species over there. They are the second largest extant bird to that of their relative, the Ostrich. One of the main reasons I wanted an emu was because they are large and cool, yes, but also that they are a lean meat source. What I did not know is that they do make good pets as well.

I have seven emus now. It all started with one and then I had to get more. You can’t have just one potato chip after all. They are addicting!

raising-emu

Hatched from the egg, a couple hours old

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I have found that emus make the best pets when they are young. Don’t go out and get an adult unless they have been already worked with by an individual. Emus are very dangerous if you do not understand them. I will talk about their behavior later in my blogging about them!

My first two emu were Debbie and Quinn. I bonded with these two fast. They were raised in the house first inside a makeshift crib. Emu chicks are like ducklings. They will imprint on you and follow you around. If you have dogs or cats, make sure the dog and cat understand not to eat them as they are fragile at first.

When raising emus, start with a young emu, preferably a day old to a week old. I also find that one that is artificially hatched is MUCH friendlier than one that is naturally hatched. I added Marco and Polo a couple of months later to my emu flock and they were raised by their daddy emu. Emus are like penguins, the male goes broody and incubates the egg and raises their young. Marco and Polo, both females, learned more wild instinctual behavior, therefore they are not as tame as my others.

Another note: Male emu are tamer than females. They have the brooding instinct, therefore they tend to be friendlier. When breeding season comes along, however, you will need to be more careful with both genders. This is with all animals though. The wild instinct kicks in when hormones come in.

Emus grow fast. In a few weeks, Debbie and Quinn had to be put outside. Make sure your housing is predator proof as emu chicks are susceptible for awhile. Adults, however, can take care of themselves very well.

Quinn and Debbie outgrew a bantam chicken very fast! We feed them a ratite starter until they are of breeder age, and then they get a ratite breeder. Diet is very important for emus so that they do not have incubation problems or growth issues later on.

Emus love water and love to bath, therefore a kiddie pool can be provided for their use.

raising-emu

Emus do swim, if you want to know. Ours will swim in the pool or river area if we turn our backs.

Soon after Debbie and Quinn, we got Marco and Polo. These guys were raised naturally, not artificially, therefore they were more wild, and still are. The male emu gets broody and incubates the eggs in the natural settings. Marco and Polo were raised in a large group until they came to me.

raising-emu

Polo

Marco would climb and hide in the bookcase daily for enjoyment. If you want emus as pets, get those that are raised artificially.

Emus need a lot of exercise. Once your emus are used to you, in my case when the older ones are used to you (so the wild ones will follow the older more “behaved” emus) I let them run around for 30 minutes each day.

raising-emu

After Marco and Polo, we added Stormy and Sparks were added to our mix. Soon after Monster Hesh joined the emu family. The last three are very friendly and inquisitive. The only two that are a bit wild are Marco and Polo but when they are together, they are more comfortable around people. One way to get them used to you is to constantly have them eat out of your hands.

When raising emus, you must have at least two. They are very sociable creatures and need a buddy. Mine are always calling for each other. They are the dinosaur version of a duck in my opinion. You cannot just have one.

From our gang to yours,

~Debbie, Quinn, Marco, Polo, Stormy, Sparks, and Monster Hesh

Visit Countryside Network for more great stories about poultry farming, including raising backyard chickens, keeping turkeys, keeping guinea fowl and more!

 Originally published in 2014 and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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Comments
    • They will protect the other birds and animals in their territory from outside predators and are very useful that way. On the other hand they will pick on animals in their territory and chase them around. I had to move my pot bellied pig away from the emus because she was getting too much harassment. Be advised that they eat your plants given a chance and get very wild when nesting season comes around. That being said, they are unique and comical animals that enjoy petting and attention.

      Reply
  • We were given a 7 year old female from a friend. We are first time Emu owners. Our hen was raised by our friend from very young. She was not raised with other Emus. We would like to get her an adult male Emu – but are a little uncertain if this would not work out since she has not been others. She is friendly with us – and is trusting with our cats and dog and even the horses in our barn where we keep her. (she has a seperate paddock) Do you know anyone that has introduced an adult bird with another adult? I am a little reluctant in case either becomes aggresive. – Donna

    Reply
  • so i am looking into getting an emu. I have a large backyard and a shed for him to go in, and i just have a few questions for when they are hatchlings. At what age can they live outside? What do i do with them while they are still too young to live outside? Do they just roam the house? Do they live in a kennel or crate? Basically I just need a guide fore caring for these little guys before they can live in the outdoors.

    Reply
  • So cuuute. I’d want some if I had land.. though I assume they poo everywhere like most birds (not sure they even have sphincter control)
    I don’t understand why the method of incubation would affect their personality later in life, surely the embryo doesn’t know whether it’s in a box with a lightbulb or under a dad emu’s butt
    Heh, don’t you love it when you start a naming theme that runs out after two, so you have to switch tracks to Sealab references. I have to assume when the aforementioned breeding season arrives, HESH WANTS SEX jokes abound

    Reply
  • About to get two emu babies locally. I’m worried about bonding with two over one? I want to raise them in my house for a short whIle. In the end tho I’d really like to work on their ability to go places and possible be slightly harnessed trained. Do you think getting two will limit the bonding and training possibilities. I know bonding with ducks 1vs2 is extremely different.

    Fromgreentored.WordPress.Com is an old blog of mine of how I bond with my animals to get an idea

    Respond here or even better at nicklaskirkpatrick@gmail.Com

    Your insight would be much appreciated

    Reply
  • I have two emus that are just coming to breeding age. They are out in a large field with a few miniature ponies and my big appaloosa horse and seem to get on very well with the other animals. They are getting pretty friendly, had them about 8 months now and I hope to have chicks that will be well handled from the start. I had no idea you could love them so much and they certainly keep me amused. The only downside is when I am fence repairing they do like to steal tools etc from my bucket and think nothing of running off with a horse halter if I put one down!!! All in all they are great pets but I like to see them run around so think it is good to have plenty of space.

    Reply
  • I’m looking for advise on raising an emu baby. The people we got Berry from just got a pair this summer and hatched 1 live chick. They were not interested in raising it and I have raised other baby critters. I know baby turkeys are very dumb and need other chicks to follow and learn to eat. Berry hatched on 3/18/18 and we got him 3/22/18. He drinks water kinda and pecks at food and acts like he swallows. I found I can get him to swallow noodles off a little fork (seems to like to peck at shiny things). Then he has started to eats and swallow some pellets and crumbles. Is there anything else I can do

    Reply
  • Where are you located.
    Would you sell a female emu for a companion to my two male emus?
    I do have their mother here but she is about 30 years old and will not live much longer.
    She is such a pet and will miss her for sure.
    Let me know
    Thanks
    Dorothy

    Reply
  • Hi my friend dropped off a (what I think two week old) emu chick to me about two weeks ago. It was very wobbly for the first couple of days and then it would not stand up. It hobbles on its hawks. I have been doing a ton of research on them, but the only problem is that we don’t have a vet that know what to do around here. I have contacted a vet that will help me but they are 2.5 hours away and I’m not sure if it will get too stressed out to travel.
    It eats and drinks, my feed store told me to use starter chicken food but the more I read I want to order emu pellets, and I can’t find the chick pellets only older ones.
    It is in the house under a heat lamp, not sure if it needs it still or not but I’m doing everything like it was a duck or chicken because that’s all I know about lol. We call it a she even though we don’t know.
    So I guess my biggest questions is where do I get emu starter pellets, does it still need the heat lamp, and do you think her legs can be fixed??

    Reply

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My Experience Raising Emus (They Make Great Pets!)

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