Difference Between Ostrich and Emu (With Table)

Nature is so diverse with almost 8.7 billion species on earth and still many undiscovered.

Among the categorisation of birds ‘flying birds’ and ‘flightless birds’ where the anatomy remains somewhat similar the morphology plays an important role. The flightless birds are evolved and adapted differently and are capable of living on land, unlike other birds. 

Ratite is one such diverse group of flightless birds that are mostly large and long-legged, they have a smooth sternum (breastbone) and lack a keel where the flight muscles are allocated which helps in the wing movement.

Ostrich vs Emu

The main difference between Ostrich and Emu is the difference in their size, Ostrich is known to be the largest, reaching a height up to 7-9 feet and 145 kilograms, while Emu are normally between 5.5 – 6 feet tall and weigh 36-40 kilograms.

Ostrich and Emu both are flightless and share a common ancestry, they are by large similar in body structure and are considered the strongest and the fastest among birds.


Comparison Table Between Ostrich and Emu (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of comparison




Found only in Africa’s semi-arid plains, savannahs, and grasslands.

Native to Australia leaving Tasmania.


Largest bird up to 9 feet tall and weigh up to 145Kg.

Can vary from 5.5 feet to 6 feet normally and weigh around 36-40 kgs.


70km/h and is therefore the fastest bird.

They can run at the speed of 50km/h.


Two toes.

Emu has 3 toes.


6 inches in length and weigh around 3 pounds, the color ranges from pearl white to cream.

5.1 inches in length and weigh between 450 – 650 g. The color ranges from striking dark green to black.


What is Ostrich?

Struthio camelus commonly called Ostrich is a member of the flightless birds. They are largest in size with the ability to run as fast as 70km/h.

Once found in Asia, Africa, and Arabian Peninsula they are now reduced to hot savannas and the woodlands of Africa due to extensive hunting and extinction at the regions. 

They are omnivores though primarily they prefer plants and feed on roots, seeds, leaves, flowers but can often seem to be eating insects such as locust,  snakes, lizards. They also eat pebbles that help them in digestion while grinding the food. 

There are five different species of Ostrich and all of them differ on a minute level depending on the color and the size. 

Males have bold black and white coloring that they use to attract females, they also use the span of their wings that reaches up to 2 meters in the mating ritual. The females generally light brown colored show extensive color change at the time of mating where the feathers turn silvery. 

The lifespan of ostrich is about 50 – 75 years.

What is Emu?

Dromaius novaehollandiae is the scientific name for Emu. The words Emu comes from Arabic words meaning ‘large bird’ literally! They are predominantly found in Australia and are in native Australia the largest bird while being the second largest overall. 

They have relatively short feathers compared to the body size with a speed of 50km/hr.

Like Ostrich they are omnivores but primarily herbivore and depends on the availability of pasture. They feed on a wide variety of leaves, grasses, seeds, and native flowers, sometimes they feed on water plants too. Insects like grasshoppers, snails, caterpillars are often consumed by them and often swallow pebbles to help grind food. 

They usually mate around summer and autumn characterised by the transformation of the color and feathers covering the head and neck. They also make sounds to give a signal of being ready to mate. 

During incubation of the eggs the female leaves, the male takes care of the eggs and can stay without food for months during which he loses enough weight. The sound produced is low deep, it is hard to record because of low frequency. The life expectancy of Emu is about 10-20 years in the wild whereas 35 years in captivity.



Both Ostrich and Emu show the signs of the evolutionary process and its effect while coming from the same ancestral background shows how the change in the region, environment, and availability shapes the body structure, color, and factors like speed and agility. 

The similarity resembles in the form and eating pattern can be easily differentiated with the morphological study where color, size, and toes play a major role. 

Reduced to a specific geographical location is because of the indefinite and extensive hunting and poaching which led to the extinction of many flightless birds hence necessary to keep a check on the population and the guidelines associated with their conservation.


  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cg5008389