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Ostriches vs. Emus: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 10, 2024
Ostriches, native to Africa, are the world's largest birds with a distinctive running ability, while emus, native to Australia, are smaller with dense, soft feathers.

Key Differences

Ostriches are native to various regions across Africa and thrive in savannahs and deserts. Emus, on the other hand, are indigenous to Australia and are found in a range of environments, from forests to plains.
Ostriches are the world's largest birds, with males reaching up to 9 feet tall. Emus are smaller, typically around 6 feet tall, and are characterized by their shaggy, soft feathers.
Ostriches are renowned for being the fastest birds on land, capable of reaching speeds up to 45 mph. Emus are also fast runners but max out at around 30 mph.
Ostriches often live in groups and have complex social behaviors. Emus are more solitary but may form pairs or small groups, especially during breeding season.
Ostrich eggs are the largest of any bird species and are incubated primarily by males. Emu eggs are smaller, dark green, and are also incubated by males.

Comparison Chart


Up to 9 feet tall
Up to 6 feet tall


Can run up to 45 mph
Can run up to 30 mph

Native Habitat


Feather Appearance

Smooth and sparse
Dense and soft

Egg Size

Largest bird eggs, cream-colored
Smaller, dark green eggs

Social Behavior

Lives in groups, complex social structures
Solitary or in pairs/small groups

Neck Length

Long and powerful necks
Shorter necks compared to ostriches

Dietary Habits

Omnivores, eating plants and insects
Mostly herbivores, with occasional insects

Ostriches and Emus Definitions


Ostriches have distinctive long necks and legs, adapted for running.
The ostriches' long necks stood out above the tall grasses.


Emus have dense, soft feathers and a distinctive blue neck.
The emus' soft feathers rustled as they moved through the bush.


In zoos, ostriches are popular exhibits due to their size and unique appearance.
Children gathered around the ostriches' enclosure, fascinated by their size.


Emus are the second-largest flightless birds native to Australia.
The emus roamed the open Australian outback, foraging for food.


Ostriches are large, flightless birds native to Africa, known for their speed.
The ostriches sprinted across the savannah, their long legs covering ground swiftly.


In Australian culture, emus hold significant symbolic value.
Emus are featured on the Australian coat of arms, symbolizing progress.


In a cultural context, "ostriches" symbolize avoidance, as in "burying one's head in the sand."
He was behaving like an ostrich, ignoring the problems at work.


Emus are known for their curious and friendly nature in wildlife parks.
At the wildlife park, the emus approached visitors without fear.


Ostriches are often farmed for their feathers, meat, and leather.
The farm specialized in raising ostriches for high-quality leather.


Emu oil, derived from the bird's fat, is used for various cosmetic and medicinal purposes.
She used emu oil for its reputed skin-healing properties.


Either of two large, swift-running flightless birds (Struthio camelus or S. molybdophanes) of Africa, characterized by a long bare neck, small head, and two-toed feet. Ostriches are the largest living birds.


A large, flightless Australian bird (Dromaius novaehollandiae) that has shaggy brown plumage and is raised for its meat, oil, and leather.


A rhea.


Plural of emu


One who tries to avoid disagreeable situations by refusing to face them.


Plural of ostrich


What are emus?

Emus are large, flightless birds native to Australia, characterized by their dense feathers and blue neck.

What do ostriches eat?

Ostriches are omnivores, eating a mix of plant material and insects.

What are ostriches?

Ostriches are the world's largest flightless birds native to Africa, known for their speed and size.

How fast can ostriches run?

Ostriches can reach speeds up to 45 mph, making them the fastest birds on land.

What is the size of an emu compared to an ostrich?

Emus are smaller than ostriches, usually around 6 feet tall, while ostriches can reach up to 9 feet.

What is the primary diet of emus?

Emus are mostly herbivorous, eating plants, but they occasionally consume insects.

Do emus live in groups?

Emus are more solitary but may form pairs or small groups, especially during breeding.

What color are ostrich eggs?

Ostrich eggs are cream-colored and the largest of any bird species.

What color are emu eggs?

Emu eggs are distinctive for their dark green color.

What is the lifespan of an emu?

Emus generally live for about 10-20 years in the wild.

Is it common to have emus as pets?

While emus can be kept on farms, they are not typical household pets due to their size and requirements.

Are ostriches social animals?

Yes, ostriches often live in groups and have complex social behaviors.

Do ostriches have any natural predators?

Ostriches face predation from large African predators like lions and cheetahs.

Are ostriches farmed for their products?

Yes, ostriches are farmed for their meat, leather, and feathers.

Can ostriches swim?

Ostriches are not known for swimming and generally avoid water.

What predators do emus have?

In the wild, emus may be preyed upon by dingoes and birds of prey.

What are the uses of emu products?

Emus are farmed for their oil, meat, and feathers.

How long do ostriches live?

Ostriches can live up to 40-45 years in the wild and longer in captivity.

Can ostriches be kept as pets?

Keeping ostriches as pets is challenging due to their size and needs.

Are emus good swimmers?

Emus can swim if necessary but typically do not enter water.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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