Do Emus Spit? [Spit-acular Emus]

Emus are the second largest birds in the world, only next to ostriches, and are endemic to Australia. They are flightless but can run fast, swim and jump.

Emus are known to be aggressive when provoked. But why do emus spit? Do they spit to defend themselves, or is it a way of their communication? Let’s see.

Do Emus Spit?

Emus are not known for spitting as a defensive tactic, although they may occasionally do so. Unlike llamas and alpacas, known to spit while communicating or protect their food, emus rely on their powerful three-toed feet when they feel threatened.

Generally, emus are gentle to their caretakers and rarely show any signs of aggression. Usually, animals spit for two reasons: to communicate or to defend themselves from predators.

While in the case of emus, they have an inflatable pouch in their throat, which they use for communication. And when they feel threatened, they either run or use their three-toed solid feet as their weapon. So they don’t have a motive to spit.

Do Emus Have Teeth?

Emus do not have any teeth; like any other bird, they have beaks. But their beaks are so strong they can tear their food using them. They swallow pebbles into gizzards so that they grind up the food like a mill.

Also Read: Do Lions Eat Ostriches?

Do Emus Eat Meat?

Emus are omnivores, and most of their diet consists of plants, fruits, seeds, flowers, and shoots. But they also eat insects and small vertebrates when they are plenty and readily available.

How Do Emus Protect Themselves?

As emus are the second largest birds on this planet, they have their height and weight to their advantage. Though these Australian native birds can’t fly, they can protect themselves with strength and vigor.

So whenever they sense any danger, the first thing they do is run. But if cornered, they can change their defense mode and be aggressive. They can seriously damage using their powerful legs and claws by kicking and stomping on a predator’s head or neck.

Emus can also leap into the air using those strong muscular legs to protect their heads and neck from attack.

Interesting Fact: Although adult emus are relatively free of predation, dingoes (wedge-tailed eagles) are only their natural predators.

Are Emus Aggressive?

Emus are not aggressive, but they can be curious. They are known to follow or ‘stalk’ humans in the wild from a safe distance. Like most animals, Emus will be aggressive when only they are threatened, surprised, or startled. 

Do Birds Spit?

Most birds have salivary glands, which help break up their food. Some birds even use their spit while building their nests, but they rarely use it as a defensive mechanism like some animals.

However, Fulmars (tube-necked sea birds) have developed a unique defensive mechanism where they spit foul-smelled oil collected in their stomach to chase away potential predators.

What Are Other Animals That Spit?

Apart from Emus, some other animals exhibit this spitting behavior for various reasons. This is seen across different types of species; while some animals do it to intimidate/ defend themselves against their predators, others, like llamas and alpacas, use it as a way of communication.

Spitting is used by both sexes to deter others from their food and by females to signal to males that they are not interested in them.

So, spit is an important mechanism for many animals to communicate or ward off predators or other dangers. For instance, the spitting cobra releases toxic saliva from its fangs and immobilizes the predator when threatened. Other venomous reptiles like vipers and pit vipers do the same.

Camels, the desert animals, would spit on their attackers. Even skunks and porcupines are known to release toxic chemicals. Sometimes, gorillas may spit, too, while defending against another animal or person.


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