We’re in the golden age of online emu content, which is a sentence I never thought I’d write. Between Karen the Canadian emu and Emmanuel Lopez—the stressed-out mischievous bird who looked death in the eyes and said, “Not today, bitch”—there are at least two more emu influencers in the world than I ever thought possible. On TikTok, these creatures come across as goofy, playful rascals. But to anyone thinking these wide-eyed, bobble-headed, cartoonish creatures would make for an easy pet and some quick online clout, heed the warning of emu breeders: They will break literally your bones.
Due to their rising social media popularity, more folks are buying emus without really knowing what they’re getting into. Breeders are warning that these birds, which can cost anywhere from $200 to $850 a chick, can be incredibly temperamental, and their demeanor can switch on a dime. Emu farmer Tammy Shull explained to the Guardian that “some emus’ hormones cause them to change literally overnight.” Imagine going to sleep in your bed with your fun fluffy little emu friend sleeping beside you, only to wake up with this in your face, plotting to murder you—the last thing you see before you die:
Breeders and farmers are understandably skeptical of the increased interest, some even refusing to sell if they think the buyer is too uninformed. In addition to Tiktok, farmer Chris Barth told the Guardian that emus got a boost from the Liberty Mutual mascot, LiMu the emu. Personally, that feels like a bit of a stretch but, again, I am only very peripherally tapped into the world of large exotic birds, and based on farmers’ descriptions of these large birds, I plan to keep it that way.
Male emus can grow to be 5’ 7" and weigh 120 pounds and female emus average about 11 pounds heavier than that. (Use hashtag #BigBirdGirls to spread this feminist win!) And they can both live up to 20 years. I’d put a lot of money on TikTok not even being around in 20 years. Emu owner Todd Green warned that emus are “very strong animals and if you’re not careful, they can kick and break bones.” I reached out to a number of emu farmers and breeders to get their thoughts on the trend of emu purchases but did not get any responses. I imagine it’s hard to answer emails when you’re chasing down these velociraptor-type creatures.
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Between avian mood swings, natural chaotic bird energy, and a mafioso attitude toward bone-breaking, it seems the only reason to be bringing an emu into your home, if you’re not an emu farmer, is to eat it. My apologies to PETA, but even the American Emu Association breaks down the different tasty cuts of emu meat. Hopefully, emus can avoid the fates seen by other fad animals of the past, like teacup pigs and alligators. Instead of worrying about needing to flush them down the toilet or abandon them after a year or so, just don’t buy them! Let them roam free and enjoy them from a distance.