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What Do Emu Birds Eat? – List of Their Favorite Foods

Written by Clinton Atkins / Fact Checked by George Dukes

what do emu birds eat

Emus are the biggest birds in the Land Down Under, but these 2-meter creatures are smaller than ostriches. Though flightless, these birds are noted for their fast running. But what do emu birds eat that make them strong and powerful? 

Both in the wild and in captivity, emus love fruits, plants, insects, and grasses. They also feed on seeds, leaves, herbs, and even kitchen scraps. These birds can adapt to the available food sources and know how to survive.

List Of Foods That Emus Eat

Emus are gigantic birds, and so it follows that their food intake is enormous as well. The good news is their native home Australia is packed with the favorite foods of emus.

One of the most interesting facts about emus is they have a self-preservation instinct.

They know when an insect, plant, or other foods are not good for their health. Emus are smart eaters, which contribute to their survival, especially in the wild where they hunt for meals.

In this post, we will explore the different kinds of foods that emus love and why these flightless birds thrive on them.

Feeding Preferences of Emus in the Wild

In the wild, emus are free to hunt for their favorite insects, eat their preferred plants, and munch on their favored arthropods. However, they do not eat snakes, mainly because these scaly creatures can cause them harm.

1. Insects


Protein is required for emus to be strong, and they get their usual dose of this nutrient from insects like grasshoppers and beetles.

Thanks to the rich macronutrient content of the diet of emus, they develop stronger bones.

2. Arthropods 

Emus like to feed on arthropods, and they also eat fish that belong to this classification. They catch centipedes, spiders, scorpions, shellfish, and millipedes for their meals. These large flightless birds like to hunt for arthropods because of their nutritional value.

3. Plants 


The main diet of emus consists of plants. Like other birds, emus favor seeds, fruits, vegetables, and leaves from plants, young shoots, and fresh herbs. This type of food source is abundant in the natural habitat of the emus species.

Emus especially love Casuarina and acacia plants. As for fruits, they prefer strawberries, cherries, citrus, berries, and apricots.

4. Grass

This huge Australian bird species loves to eat grass. Emus prefer juicy instead of dry grasses though. By indulging in a grass diet, the emus are able to strengthen their gizzards, achieve a boost of energy, and live a healthy lifestyle. Grasses can be found where there is soil, so emus will always have a good food source.

5. Reptiles & Mammals

Baby reptiles and mammals such as lizards and rodents are sometimes eaten by emus when they’re available. These foods are a good source of meat in the wilderness, and lizards in particular are easy prey because they lack maternal protection.

Foods That Emus Eat in the Winter

The emu diet during the winter months is not as grand as the summer months. When snow engulfs the land, there is an expected scarcity of food sources. Emus will have a harder time finding insects. Luckily, this bird species loves plants.

In the cold days and nights, emu food is mostly plant-based. They travel from one place to another in order to search for food. Fortunately, emus are resilient, and they can survive without eating for weeks.

Emus will search for warmer spots with flowers, grasses, herbs, leaves, and seeds. Of course, this applies to birds living in their natural habitat.

For captive emus birds, their human parents offer them feed, grains, seeds, fruits, vegetables, meat, and kitchen scraps.

What to Feed Emus in Captivity?


The emus are notable plant eaters, and so in captivity, their meals often consist of fruits, seeds, and vegetables. But of course, they also love to eat human foods, among other things.

1. High-protein feeds

When emus are domesticated, their diet is mostly composed of high-protein feeds such as pellets. There are feeds that are made specifically for emus, but many people also use chicken feeds.

The most important thing is the chosen product is rich with proteins, vitamins, and minerals that improve the health of birds.

2. Meat scraps

Do emus eat meat? Humans normally give meat scraps to emus birds, and they love this kind of meal. Strips of pork and chicken eggs are perfect for emus that are held captive. Meat provides high protein and energy to these flightless creatures.

3. Fruits


Like humans, emus love to eat bananas, apples, mangoes, grapefruits, and more. Hence, it should be easy to feed and buy them food from supermarkets.

4. Seeds

Emu birds like to feed on sunflower, corn, grass seeds, and peanuts. This bird species can seamlessly digest hard seeds thanks to their stone gizzards.

5. Kitchen scraps & more

There is hardly any food in the kitchen that the emu birds will not eat. They can eat bread, crackers, and other kitchen scraps. Emus also like pet foods. But most importantly, they love water.

Humans also need to be cautious in keeping small objects because emus feed on car keys, tiny toys, plastics, and other things in the house.

6. Vegetables


You now know what fruits do emu eat, so let’s proceed to vegetables. Emus love carrots, fresh beets, spinach, cabbage, potatoes, and onions.

7. Grains

Grains are one of the favorite foods of emus, so humans always give them bran, barley, yeast, and other kinds of grains, particularly millet.

Also read: Birds that like millet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Emus are undoubtedly a popular bird species. And there are a few questions that fans of the emus are curious to know about.

1. What do baby emus eat?

Baby emus eat green leafy vegetables, insects, and seeds. There are many chick formulas that pet parents can buy. But in the wild, young emus are fed whatever food is available, especially insects.

2. How much do emus need to eat?

When emus rely on humans for food, their meals can amount to 1kg daily. But on their own, the food consumption varies, since emus can survive for weeks without eating. This is especially true when food is scarce.

3. Why do emus eat stones?

Emus use their gizzards to break down their food. And to make gizzards work more effectively, they eat stones to increase their crushing power.


What do emu birds eat? They love plants, fruits, grasses, grains, seeds, and feeds. Emus also eat small objects such as car keys and toys.

Emus are huge creatures that need to feed in large volumes. However, they can spend weeks without consuming food and still live. Plus, they eat small stones to help their digestion.

We hope you like this post enough to share it to your friends. Feel free to tell us what you think through the comment section.

Furthermore, don’t forget to check other topics that are related to birds’ foods:

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Clinton Atkins


Hi, I'm Clinton. Rocky and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.

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