Ostrich (Struthio camelus)

Ostrich

Go past the giraffe house and the Amur leopards to find us in our Wild Explorers exhibit!

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

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

Weight Male: 100–156kg; female: 90–110kg

Gestation 42-46 days

Young 2-11 eggs are laid

Life span 30-40 years

What do I eat?

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.

Where do I live?

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.

Breeding

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.

Predators

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

Conservation

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.

Did you know?

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.

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Fantastic day out

We had a fantastic time at the zoo yesterday. It was the first time we had been into the tropical house, and we were so surprised to see so many animals, birds, butterflies and beautiful plants there. We packed so much in, and saw so many animals, including great views of… Read full reviewTeresa, 19th August 2018