Fig & Kabul - Australian Emu
The emu is the second largest bird on the planet, standing nearly 6 tall, and weighing up to 120 pounds. Emus cannot fly but they are fast runners - up to 30 mph. Surprisingly, they are also strong swimmers. Some scientists consider emus to be living dinosaurs because their bones and joints are similar. Their ability to store fat allows them to go without food for long periods of time. Emus can defend themselves with tremendously powerful forward kicks. They eat great quantities of caterpillars, grasshoppers, and masses of the burrs that tangle sheep wool, which makes them helpful to farmers.
Fig & Kabul's parents at the farm in Hayward.
In late Spring of 2013 I purchased two emu eggs off ebay from Hayward, California. They were shipped to me carefully and reached their destination in two days. I placed the eggs in my Genesis Incubator and set the temperature gauge for 96.5. They were incubated for 54 days and during this time I hand-turned the eggs throughout the day, around the clock up until the final week. The humidity was controlled by a small dish in the centre of the incubator. I raised and lowered the water level to keep it consistent between 20%-30% humidity (it's very dry in Arizona).
During the incubation I knew the eggs were making great progress because I was able to weigh them and measure how much moisture was lost in the egg. As the eggs develop, they actually lose weight and a healthy emu egg needs to be between certain parameters to make it to hatching. I was always right on track with the eggs and very hopeful that they would hatch. During the final few days, both eggs began to wiggle back and forth as the chicks prepared themselves to start breaking through their eggs. How wonderful!
I'm free, what's up?
The first egg hatches...
The big egg was the first to hatch and I estimate that I missed about 50% of the process. I last checked on them two hours prior, so I know that the entire hatch was just a little over two hours long. At least I caught the end of it! It was truly a magical moment to think that these eggs that I got in the mail was now a small living creature that resembled a dragon or dinosaur in front of me.
I left the chick in the incubator over night to completely dry off and hoped that the next chick was on his or her way to joining the world.
The second egg hatches...
Late the next afternoon the smaller chick broke a piece of his egg open and began to slowly make his way out of the egg. This egg I was able to film the entire process, which took 15 hours to complete. This chick I gave as a gift to my friend and roommate to say thank you for all her help and hard work when it came to raising and taking care of my animals. Not to worry though, both chicks will be kept together.
Watch the video of the hatch below.
Raising the chicks
The chicks were delightful to raise.
Unless, you've done it it's hard to imagine the joy of watching them take their first steps, learn to eat and drink and then grow up so quickly. In a matter of months they barely resembled their small striped tiny chicks they were.
Fig & Kabul
It took awhile to name the chicks, but it finally happened. The name Kabul came to mind for my chick and my friend named her chick Fig. To tell them apart in pictures and videos is easiest if both of them are together. The second born chick, Fig, is much smaller than Kabul and a lighter more steel grey color. Kabul is large, darker, and more aggressive. I don't necessarily mean aggressive in a bad way- he's just really interactive and always in your business. Because of this, I think she may be a female, as they're usually the more dominate of the sexes. Fig is more shy and prefers to stay in the background.
Life with Emus
Emu are a lot of fun and I've enjoyed raising these two. I would like to get more emu eggs in the future to hatch. It's definitely a memorable experience.
The Emu Tango
In December 2013, I bought my Emu & Ostrich a weasel ball. A motorized ball with a faux raccoon-like tail attached. I knew they would go nuts for it, but I had no idea just how hilarious the results would be. The video went viral overnight and was shared all around the world. I think it's one of the most fun videos I've filmed to date and the birds just had a blast with it.
Check it out, but I'm warning you... you may erupt into uncontrollable laughter. Trust me, it was hard filming this with a straight face. Silly birds!