Emu vs Ostrich – What’s the Difference Between an Ostrich and an Emu?

The Emu and Ostrich may look the same, but they are wildly different birds. Let’s take a little look at the difference between them in this Emu vs Ostrich article, shall we?

Emu vs Ostrich - What's the Difference Between an Ostrich and an Emu
Emi vs Ostrich

Ostrich vs Emu Differences at a Glance

Speed30 mph43 mph
Weight150 lbs.300 lbs.
Hight7 feet9 feet
Egg weight1.0 – 1.4 lbs.3 lbs.
Egg size (long x wide)5.1 in × 3.5 in6 in x 5.1 in
Eggshell Dark greenCream
Ostrich vs Emu Differences at a Glance

Where They Come From?

Emus originate from Australia, and the Ostrich comes from Africa. Of course, they are now raised throughout the world, but these are the two places to go if you want to see the wild version of the bird.

The Number of Species

There is only one species of Emu. There will be two of the Ostrich, the Common and the Somali ostrich. Although, even with the species of ostrich, they pretty much both look the same outside of a few color variations and size differences.

Emu vs Ostrich

Flight: Emu vs Ostrich

Neither the ostrich nor the emu can fly. They lack the capability to do so. Their wings are simply not enough to lift their heavy bodies from the ground.

Even if the wings were good enough for that, the structure of their bones makes flight impossible for both birds.

This doesn’t mean that they do not use their wings, though. Both the ostrich and the emu will use their wings heavily throughout the breeding season.

They are the key to attracting a good mate!

Read more in depth about the Ostrich flying facts.

Speed: Emu vs Ostrich

There is a huge difference between the speed that these birds can run.

The fastest you will ever see an Emu run will be 30 mph, whereas an Ostrich can travel at over 43 mph! This is surprising since the Ostrich tends to be a far larger bird than the Emu.

Size: Emu vs Ostrich

While there Emu and the Ostrich are the largest birds in the world, there is a surprising difference in their size between the Emu and the Ostrich .

Ostriches are a couple of feet taller than the Emu. The largest Ostrich can hit a whopping 9-feet tall, whereas the Emu caps out at about 7-feet.

The weight is hugely different too. A large ostrich may reach 300lbs, whereas the heaviest an Emu is going to get will be 150lbs.

Interestingly, there is a difference between the sexes of these birds. Ostriches have larger males, whereas Emus have larger females.

The Look of the Birds

Since these birds both come from the same family, they look very similar to one another.

Outside of the size of the Emu and the Ostrich, there is not much difference in terms of the way that they look.

The main difference (outside of the size) will be the number of toes that they have.

The emu will have three toes. The ostrich will have two toes.

It is these two toes that work to the ostrich’s advantage. The two toes actually help the ostrich to run faster than the Emu can.

Eggs: Emu vs Ostrich

The ostrich lays the largest eggs in the world. Their eggs can weigh up to three pounds! They are hefty in size too, with the length sitting at the 6-inches mark.

Emu vs Ostrich Eggs

Emu eggs are almost third of this size. This is still large, and among the largest bird eggs too, but still nowhere near the size that an Ostrich produces, although this isn’t that surprising since there is a major difference in the size of the birds.

Breeding Differences Between Them

There is a major difference between the way that these two birds breed…sort of. There are a couple of similarities, though.

Both the Emu and the Ostrich are polygamous. This means that a bird may mate with several different birds during the breeding season, however, the way that they go about this will be completely different.

With emus, it will be the female emu that is polygamous. The female emu will not raise their eggs. Instead, the males will raise the eggs, while the female will try and breed with as many different males as they possibly can.

The world of ostrich breeding is completely different. It is the males that will try and breed with as many females as they possibly can.

It is not uncommon for a male ostrich to breed with six different females during the breeding season.

The egg hatching is pretty much the same. Neither the Emu nor the Ostrich will produce chicks that take a lot of looking after once they have hatched.

In fact, once the chicks for both of these birds have hatched, they will be ready to join the flock in a couple of days.

Check more in-depth about what to expect from an Emu as a pet.


The diet for both of these birds is different.

The emu will tend to eat whatever it can get its beak on. This is normally going to be plants and the like. However, they have no problem eating small animals.

They do prefer eating invertebrates such as small insects, but they have been known to eat small rodents too.

Ostriches will almost never veer from their herbivore diet. However, they have been known to eat small insects and lizards if they need to supplement for certain nutrients, although, this is going to be incredibly rare.

Read more in-depth about the diet of the ostrich.

Uses of the Birds

While we have mainly talked about how these birds are living in the wild, both of these birds have been farmed extensively for their produce.

Both birds can provide:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Leather

The meat part is important. Both of these birds have small breasts for their size. However, the larger size of the bird helps to counter this somewhat. It makes both of them brilliant meat producers.

In addition to this, Emus will be raised for their oil, which is often used in aboriginal pain relief treatments.

Ostriches will be raised for their feathers, although this is something that will be more of a ‘side benefit’ to the eggs and the meat that they are producing.


The Emu and the Ostrich are very similar birds, with the bulk of the difference between the two being the size of them. However, this is not really all that surprising.

They are both members of the same ‘bird family’, they have just evolved slightly differently due to the areas that they evolved in.

The Emu is better suited to the Australian environment, whereas the Ostrich is better for the African continent.

You might want to check other interesting articles:
Rhea vs Ostrich
Helmeted Guineafowl
Naked Neck chicken
Where to buy an ostrich/ostriches for sale and cost

Scroll to Top