Updated at: 06-06-2023 - By: Jane Brody

The ostrich is the largest and the fastest living bird, despite the fact that emus are also very large and unable to fly.

However, emus are the highest jumping birds despite being the third largest in size.

Common belief holds that all birds without wings must be related.

This may lead you to ponder:

Are Emu And Ostrich Related?

Emu Vs Ostrich Size

Though they seem related, scientifically they aren’t.

For one thing, ostriches and emus don’t even belong to the same taxonomic family.

Thus, a phylogenetic comparison of the two species

Cassowaries, however, are related to emus and are hence their closest living cousins.

Both of them remind me of huge turkeys, with their small wings and stiff vane feathers.

However, in contrast to cassowaries, emus’ feathers are a dull brown.

By comparison, ostriches resemble camels in general appearance and have large wings covered in coarse feathers.

The kiwi is their nearest living relative.


Emus resemble ostriches only because of their large size and narrow necks. 

This allows you to quickly identify each kind of bird.


There is a wide range of variation among the bird species, including in appearance, genetics, behavior, habitat, and even lifespan.

While the average lifespan of an ostrich is around 45 years, that of an emu is more like 15.

So, you might be wondering…

What Is The Difference Between Emus And Ostriches?

Emu Vs Ostrich Size-2

There was never any common ancestor between emus and ostriches because they are so genetically distinct from one another.

These days, it’s not uncommon for ostriches to reach a height of 9 feet and a weight of 133 kilograms.

It has a top speed of around 96 kilometers per hour and a vertical leap of up to 2 meters.

In contrast, emus top out at 6-7 feet in height and 45 kilograms in weight at most.

Although they can only jump approximately 8-9 feet, they can run about 50 kilometers per hour.

The two are obviously very different in other ways as well.

Who Would Win Ostrich Or Emu?

Due of the low probability of a chance encounter between these two birds in the wild.

Therefore, it is impossible to predict the victor.

In any case,

Odds are an ostrich will win against an emu.


The kicks of an ostrich are more powerful than those of an emu.

And because of its speed and longer legs, an ostrich can reach further.

Did you know an Ostrich kick can even knock out a lion? 

What about the lion? – Can an ostrich kill a lion?

Ostriches have the best vision of any terrestrial animal.

But emus have bigger brains and more aggressive tendencies, and they can jump higher than ostriches can.

In other words,

An emu does have the potential to harm an ostrich.

But the emu can only win if it makes a spectacular leap of height and slashes the ostrich’s throat open with one swift motion.

It’s plausible, but an ostrich’s neck is too small and too flexible for that to be the case.

An ostrich is far likely to win against an emu.

Are Ostriches Dangerous? is a related article.

Perhaps you’re wondering,

What about the question of whether or not emus make suitable pets?

Is it safe to be around them?


Can Emus Kill You?

Emu Vs Ostrich Size-3

Well, no emu has ever been reported to kill a human.

Thus, it is quite unlikely that they will attempt to murder you.

Their sharp beaks, high jumps, and deadly claws may do serious harm to any person.

To the contrary, they often successfully drive away their enemies.

In addition, they have been seen cutting their enemies in the stomach, thus eviscerating them.

They have been reported to attack humans. 

A woman was attacked on the head by an emu in one such incident.

No one knows what motivated this attack.

One man was attacked by an emu in its cage in 2019.

My suggestion?

Keeping an emu as a pet is perhaps not the wisest choice.

Despite this, indigenous Australians frequently consumed emus during times of conflict and food scarcity.

There are religious and cultural traditions that involve these birds.

It follows that people pose a greater threat to emus than any other species.

Wrapping Up

In spite of the fact that they both fit the description of “large flightless birds,” emus and ostriches are in different taxonomic orders.

Their appearances, behaviors, genetic makeup, and tastes vary greatly.

Even though encounters between these two bird species are extremely rare, ostriches would undoubtedly emerge victorious in a battle between them.

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