Common Name: Ostrich

Scientific Name: Struthio camelus

Male ostriches make deep ‘booming’ calls when displaying to females, claiming their territory and also when they are disturbed by predators.

Ostriches can run at up to 70km per hour for short distances, and can manage to maintain a speed of up to 50km per hour for up to half an hour.

These birds have long, sturdy legs with a 10cm long claw on their inner toe, which they can use in self-defence.

Ostriches have enormous eyes, with a diameter of 5cm! They are the largest eyes of any land animal.

Fast Facts

  • Status

    Least Concern

  • Size

    Male: 210–275 cm; female: 175–190 cm

  • Weight

    Male: 100–156 kg; female: 90–11 0kg

  • Gestation

    42-46 days

  • Young

    2-11 eggs are laid

  • Life span

    30-40 years

In the wild

Ostriches mainly eat grasses, seeds, leaves and succulent plants, but they will also eat insects and small vertebrates. Ostriches uproot and swallow some plants whole, so to help them break down these tough foods in their gizzards they swallow pebbles and sand. Ostriches don’t need to drink!  They get most of the water they need from succulent plants.

Ostriches are found across a large range of countries in Africa, including, Mali, Niger, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Botswana and South Africa. They live in a variety of arid and semi-arid habitats such as desert and savannah, as well as open woodland.

Ostriches may breed alone in just one pair or as a group with a dominant male and female. The male ostrich will make a nest by scraping out a shallow dip in soil or sand.  The main female usually lays between 5 and 11 eggs, and the other females may lay between 2 and 6 eggs all in the same nest.  The eggs are incubated by the male and the main female.  Chicks will leave the nest at between 3 and 5 days of age, and will fledge at 4 to 5 months old. The young are fully grown by about 18 months old.

Ostriches are mainly preyed upon by lions but leopards and cheetahs are known to take them occasionally.

Ostriches face threats from habitat loss, but although their numbers appear to be decreasing they are still found in large numbers across most of their range.

Meet Marwell's Ostrich

Meet Marwell's Ostrich

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