Umm… Can I Ride an Emu? Is It a Good Idea?

Emus are just about the coolest birds ever. That’s a scientific fact, and I’m standing by it. You want a source? My source is that I made it up, but it’s still true

emu seen from the back
emu seen from the back

These giant, flightless birds are undeniably charming, and watching them sprint around at nearly 6 feet tall and weighing over a hundred pounds is quite a sight. In fact, emus are big enough, tall enough, that it looks like they could carry a person. Say, can you ride an emu? Is it a good idea?

No, you cannot ride an emu. Emus are incapable of carrying an adult human under any conditions. Trying to do so will likely injure the bird and turn it against you, and emus can easily hurt people with powerful kicks or pecks.

Unfortunately, your dreams of gallantly and gracefully riding your emu into town to grab a gallon of milk from the corner store will have to remain simply that. Emus cannot carry you, and even if they could, you shouldn’t try for a whole host of reasons.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news on this one, but we need to put this concept to bed permanently. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why…

Emus Simply Cannot Carry an Adult

The bottom line is that emus are simply incapable of carrying human beings. Yes, emus are cute and quite strong. An average adult will stand right at 6 feet (1.82 m) tall and can weigh up to 130 pounds (58 kilos).

They can jump more than 7 feet in the air and run at more than 30 mph. They are incredibly strong and athletic, and the only other birds that even come close to their physical performance on land are their even larger cousins, ostriches.

But as strong as they are, as capable as they are, they cannot carry any substantial weight, and under no conditions could they carry the weight of an adult human. That’s it…

Of course, this doesn’t even take into account that an emu would still need to be saddled, which would add weight, and the fact that they absolutely despise anything being laid across their back or neck. Even if they had the strength, they don’t have the temperament.

But Ostriches Can Carry People…

This is the argument I constantly hear from people on the subject. Ostriches can carry a human being, why can’t emus? They are both gigantic, flightless birds. What’s the difference?

The difference is simply one of sheer physical capability. Ostriches are even bigger, even stronger, even heavier compared to emus: an adult ostrich starts at about 7 feet tall and 140 pounds, and many weigh over 200 pounds.

Some monster birds are closing in on 300 pounds and nearly 9 feet tall. That is absolutely insane!

And accordingly, though it is still a bad idea, it’s physically possible for a human being to ride an ostrich although they are awkward, difficult to control, and poor mounts.

Yes, some countries have ostrich races where petite jockeys try to lead them to victory, and a few zoos even offer ill-advised ostrich rides to guests.

Those are all subjects for other articles, but the bottom line is that an ostrich is way more capable of carrying a load compared to an emu.

Emus are Also Skittish and Can Be Aggressive

Another fact that completely disqualifies emus from carrying a rider: they can be very standoffish and even downright aggressive.

Even the friendliest emu that has been raised by a caring, doting, and loving person since it was a chick can get hormonal, scared, and skittish, and go on the offensive. This is just the way they are, and something that all long-time emu owners are familiar with, and if they aren’t, they will be in time.

If you try to climb aboard your emu, assuming it will let you get close enough to do so, you’re quickly going to start crushing it into the ground.

This feels very much like an attack, and if the emu’s legs buckle, that can cause severe injury or even fractures. Actually, it’s understandable that the bird will lash out and try to protect itself.

There’s just no world where you should try to ride an emu for any distance and for any reason. It simply won’t work, and even if you could mount the bird, you’re going to hurt it and it is going to try to kick your butt.

When you consider the size and strength of these birds, and the huge claws that are on the end of each toe, you might be headed for the ER or the morgue when it’s done…

Could an Emu Carry a Child?

Don’t even think about it. I won’t justify this with an answer. Even if the emu was capable of carrying the load, even trying such a cockamamie idea is tantamount to it being abusive.

It Might Even Be Against the Law

Something else to consider is that subjecting an emu to carrying a human rider is very likely, and quite rightly, considered animal abuse in many places.

The pressing, crushing weight of a human can inflict injuries as mentioned, and in any case, it is going to stress the bird out terribly and is completely unnecessary.

Trying to ride an emu and film the whole thing for internet fame or to prove me wrong might get you dragged into court and charged with animal cruelty or related crimes. In some countries, like Australia, it is federally illegal to attempt emu riding.

Stressing Your Emu in This Way Might Turn It Against You

One thing to keep in mind, for those of you who already own these amazing and majestic birds: that bond that you share with your bird, the one that has taken you many months or years to build, can be shattered in an instant by one instance of mistreatment.

Trying to ride your emu is only going to stress it out, terrify it, and likely injure it. In the aftermath, it probably will never trust you again in the way that it did. Think it through before you do something stupid.

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