What Do Emus Eat? 7 Common Foods

What Do Emus Eat

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Emus and Ostriches do not just resemble each other a lot, it is believed that they have almost the same eating habits as well. If we try to judge these flightless birds more keenly, it is possible that the birds have the same eating habits.

Ostriches are Omnivores by nature, they eat plants, roots, seeds, insects, and arthropods. If Emus happen to eat the same, it can be said that the said flightless birds have the same eating habits.

To see if Emus have the same preferences or not, we have to find out what these flightless birds eat first. So, here’s what Emus eat.

What Do Emus Eat in General?

  • Plants
  • Insects
  • Arthropods
  • Bone Meal
  • Chicken Eggs
  • Mice
  • Grain
  • Charcoal
  • Kale

To be able to understand what emus eat, we first need to be sure whether this flightless bird is herbivore or omnivore. Well, emus are categorized as omnivores; the flightless birds who eat both meat and plant matter.

To be more specific, emus eat fresh grasses, berries, and fruits. However, if they get a chance to eat meat, emus prefer eating non-poisonous insects like ladybirds, cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, bongs, ants, spiders, cotton ball moths, and millipedes, etc.

If emus are given a free will to choose anything to eat, they would prefer devouring ladybirds, cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, bongs, ants, spiders, cotton boll moths, and millipedes, fresh grass, berries, and fruits.

However, only emus in the wild have a variety of options to choose from. The domestic and the emus living in the zoo have to eat the same old food almost every single day.

So, that’s what emus prefer to eat if emus are to make the decision.

The domestic and the emus living in the zoos have been deprived of the power to make decisions.

However, they are entertained with the best emus-friendly food available out there.

Frankly, whether it’s a bird, animal, or any other God’s creature, eat what’s available to them in the environment they live in.

Emus live in different environments as well. Some have been living in the wild, houses as a pet, and some in zoos.

Whereas, a very few emus have been entertaining us in the circuses as well. All the emus living in different environments get to eat different foods. Since this post is about what Emus eat, allow us to discuss all the cases in detail.

What Do Emus Eat in the Wild?

You might already know but it’s mandatory to mention here that the wild is an unpredictable environment to live in.

The birds and animals have so many options to derive nutrients and energy. Sometimes all of the things these birds eat are inaccessible. However, Emus living in the wild choose to eat plant matter, insects, and arthropods.

The plant matter, insects, and arthropods emus eat

Since wild emus are omnivores as well, they have been recorded to eat 43 species of plants and some insects and arthropods like grasshoppers, flies, beetles, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes, etc.

It’s quite hard to tell which 43 species of plant emus eat in the wild as it varies both seasonally and regionally.

However, it can be told with utmost surety that the 43 species of plant matter that emus eat include a wide range of fruits, shoots, and seeds.

It is also observed that Emus do not attempt to eat plant matter with little nutritional value; dried grasses, dead flowers.

When it’s summer, the wild Emus have more to eat. They have all the relevant insects, arthropods, and plant matter to eat.

When the winter kicks in, the Wild Emus hardly find any insect or arthropod to eat. They usually have to survive the winter on plant matter.


It might come as a surprise to you. Yes, Emus eat stones as well. Stones are neither eaten for nutritional purposes nor to satisfy a craving, they are rather eaten to assist the digestive system in digesting food.

What Do Domestic Emus Eat?

The domestic Emus are a whole other case. They enjoy highly nutritional meals and mouth-watering treats once or twice a week.

80 to 90% of the time, the domestic Emus eat plant matter whereas, the rest of the time they eat small insects and arthropods.

Some domestic Emus have also been noticed eating a bone meal, chicken eggs, mice, lizards, and some animal products.

They have slightly different eating habits. It is probably because the said flightless birds do not have the access to plant matter and insects as much as the wild ones have.

Bone meal

The bone meal is something not everyone has heard of. The bone meal that emus get to eat is a combination of finely and coarsely ground slaughterhouse waste products and various animal bones.

It is the same processed form of bones and animal waste products that is used as an organic fertilizer for plants.

It is enriched in phosphorus, calcium, and various trace minerals. When bone meal is combined with all the regular foods and treats, the nutritional needs are fulfilled.

Chicken eggs

Besides the bone meal, feeding chicken eggs seems odd as well. We all know the said Flightless birds need a lot of protein to stay healthy and active.

What would be more protein-rich than eggs? Since meat and animal products do not harm Emus, they get to eat eggs to fulfill their protein needs.

Mice and lizards

The domestic Emus are not lucky enough to find as many insects and arthropods as the wild ones do.

They have to satisfy their craving for the options available. Mice and lizards are the two options they can easily find in the domestic environment.

So, they have no option but to eat them to overcome the need. Moreover, if they find the other favorable insects and rodents, Emus eat them as well.


The domestic Emus do not mind eating grains like oats, barley, wheat, corns, and sunflower seeds.

The domestic Emus prefer eating wheat out of all the grains widely available. To get a handful of grains they would not even mind ruining the entire wheat crop.


Emus either need charcoal or stones to assist the digestive system in digesting food. However, finding a specific kind of stone in a domestic environment is nearly impossible. So, the domestic Emus eat charcoal to smoothen out the digestive process.

What Do Emus in the Zoos Eat?

The Emus that live in the zoos are entertained with the best foods and shelter. This zoo case is entirely different from the above-mentioned cases.

Unfortunately, there are only a few zoos in the world that entertain birds and animals with a variety of natural and processed foods and treats.

In most zoos, this world’s second-largest bird is forced to survive on roughage, charcoal, ratite pellets, and some greens like kale and romaine. Not only Emus but the closely related flightless birds like Rheas and Ostriches have been eating the same.

Roughage and ratite pellets

Even if Emus have been given solid Emu food, roughage still remains a part of their diet even in zoos.

Ratite pellets are specifically made for ratite; Emus, Ostriches, and Rheas. It’s a nutritionally balanced formula consisting of dehydrated alfalfa meal, maize mash, maize gluten feed, wheat, soya dehulled extracted toasted, barley, linseed fibers, apple molasses, maize, lignobond, shell grit, brewer’s yeast, potato protein, limestones, soja oil, and lecithin, etc.


The wild and domestic Emus have access to stones that help in digesting food. However, unfortunately, Emus in the zoos do not. So, these flightless birds eat charcoal to digest food.

Kale and romaine

Kale and romaine are the other important components of Emu’s diet. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that resembles cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

It’s a rewarding vegetable that is enriched in calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, vitamin A, K, C, and B6.

Romaine is a lettuce that can be recognized by the sturdy dark green leaves with firm ribs down the center.

Emus get to eat romaine in zoos to fulfill the calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamin A, and K needs.

Learn Can Emus Walk Backwards?

What Do Emus Entertaining in the Circuses Eat?

A few Emus have also been living and entertaining in the circuses as well. Unfortunately, the Emus entertaining in the circuses have to survive the rough living conditions.

The Emus that live in the circuses eat fruits, vegetables, grains, bone meal, fresh grasses, and some insects or arthropods if they can find them.

Fruits and vegetables

The Emus entertaining in the circuses eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. However, they prefer eating carrots, fresh beets, and berries.

Carrot is a commonly consumed root vegetable. It is found in purple, black, white, yellow, and red colors.

Since red carrots are more common, Emus get to eat them the most especially in winters.

Carrots contain a good amount of iron, potassium, calcium, protein, vitamin A and K. The Emus need all these nutrients to live a healthy balanced life.

Beets, beetroots, table beet, garden beet, red beet, dinner beet, or golden beet is a taproot portion of the beet plant.

It is cooked, pickled, and sometimes eaten raw. The Emus get to eat Beets in raw form especially in the winters. Beets have more or less the same nutrients as carrots.

It contains a good amount of magnesium, manganese, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, protein, vitamin A, and C.

Berries are small, pulpy, rounded, brightly colored edible fruits. Strawberries, red currants, white currants, black currants, blueberries, and blackberries are the few commonly consumed examples of berries.

It is believed that out of all the fruits Emus eat, the said birds love berries the most.

Berries are loaded with all necessary vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. So, the Emus living in the circuses are often entertained with berries.


Since Emu’s have a high demanding job at the circuses, their diet is comprised of a variety of food.

Grains remain an important part of the domestic and circus birds. However, only a few grains Emus find edible.

As per the observation, Emus loves oats, barley, wheat, corn, and sunflower seeds etc.

Oats contains copper, phosphorus, manganese, and protein, barely is a good source of fiber, manganese, and selenium, wheat is a natural source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and dietary fiber, corn has folate, phosphorus, vitamin C, magnesium, sunflower seeds supplies vitamin E, magnesium, protein, iron, and selenium.

All these grains help in maintaining Emus’s health and wellness.

Bone meal and grasses

The Emus surviving in the circuses also derives the nutrients from bone meal and grasses. The bone meal does not need any introduction as is explained above.

Moreover, they get to eat fresh grass as a meal occasionally as well.

Insect and arthropods

The Emus that lives to entertain the viewers hardly find insects and arthropods.

However, whenever they find grasshoppers, flies, beetles, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes roaming around they do not mind eating them as well.

Learn Are Emus Dangerous? 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Emus herbivores? Do they eat plant matter only?

No, Emus are not herbivores but omnivores. The birds can eat both plant matter and meat. To be more specific, the said flightless birds eat grasses, shoots, seeds of plants, and some insects and arthropods like grasshoppers, flies, beetles, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes, etc.

Do Emus eat a bone meal?

The domestic and the emus living to entertain in the circuses do eat bone meal. Yes, the same bone meal that we use to fertilize the plants organically.

Do Enmus “really” eat stones?

Yes, whoever said that Emus eat stones has said it right. Emus do eat stones to assist the digestive system in digesting plant matter. However, the domestic Emus rarely find stones to eat, they devour charcoal for the same purpose.


Just like ostriches, Emus are omnivores by nature. They derive their energy and nutrients from plant matter, insects, and arthropods. Almost 43 species of plants are eaten by the Emus.

The insect and arthropods that these flightless birds eat are ladybirds, cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, bongs, ants, spiders, cotton ball moths, and millipedes, etc.


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