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!
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.
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.
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.
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
Originally published in 2014 and regularly vetted for accuracy.