Ostrich (Struthio camelus)

Ostrich

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

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Male height: 210-275cm. Female height: 175-190 cm

Weight Male: 100-156kg. Female: 90-110kg

Gestation 42-46 days

Young Usually 7-10 eggs are laid

Life span Unknown in the wild, 30-40 years in captivity

What do I eat?

Ostrich feed on a wide range of plants such as grasses, seeds, leaves, flowers, fruits and roots. They are also known to feed on small animals such as insects, small lizards and snakes as well as some rodents!

To help them digest their food, ostrich will often swallow sand and small stones to help grind up the food in their gizzard (a muscular pouch behind the stomach), before it is properly digested.

Where do I live?

Ostrich are found in central and southern Africa, where they usually live in open woodland or a variety of open, semi-arid plains such as desert or savannah.

Breeding

Ostrich are social birds, living in groups of around 10 birds. These groups are led by a dominant male and female and are comprised mostly of females. Before breeding, the male will scrape out a nest in the ground, and then attract females to him through an elaborate courtship display.

The dominant female can lay up to 11 eggs, whereas the other females lay 2 to 6 eggs. The dominant male and female will take turns incubating and caring for the eggs until they hatch. Chicks are fully developed when they hatch and will leave the nest at around 3 to 5 days old, but stay close to the adults until they are around 4 to 5 months old. Ostrich are fully grown at around 18 months, and are able to have their own young from 3 to 4 years old.

Predators

Main predators of ostrich are cheetah, lions, African wild dogs, leopards and hyena. Ostrich chicks are sometimes hunted by large birds of prey; and eggs are known to be taken by banded mongoose and Egyptian vultures.

Chicks will try and stay safe by running towards the adults when threatened, the adults will attack predators to protect their young. The kick of an adult ostrich is very strong and known to kill lions!

Conservation

Although ostrich are found in large numbers across their range, their numbers have reduced due to hunting (for eggs, meat and feathers) and loss of habitat through overgrazing from domestic animals and clearing land for farming.

International trade in ostrich is strictly monitored, and they are often found in protected reserves. To help protect wild populations, there are many ostrich farms around the world to supply the demand for ostrich products (mostly meat and feathers). This is considered to be a very profitable farming project, with many new ostrich farms being created.

Did you know?

Ostrich have the largest eyes of any land animal; their eyes are about 5cm across!

These animals are incredibly fast runners and it’s believed that they can reach speeds of around 40mph; with each stride length measuring 3 to 5 metres!

The ostrich is the only species of bird to have just 2 toes.

The feathers of ostrich are very different to most bird species, as they do not ‘hook’ together like other bird feathers. They also get very wet in rain as ostrich do not have the special preening gland like other bird species have to keep their feathers waterproof when grooming.

Ostrich are rarely seen drinking, as they get most of the water they need from the plants in their diet.

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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