Ostrich facts and information

Ostrich Facts

The ostrich is a member of the ratite family of birds. The ratite is a type of bird that is not able to fly. The ostrich is the largest living bird in the world and although it is native to Africa, the ostrich thrives in countries all over the world. For more information and facts about the ostrich, keep reading below.

  • Ostrich skeletons and fossils have been found which date back over 120 million years which makes it a true dinosaur.
  • There are three main species of ostriches of which only one, the African Black, is found in captivity. When a group of ostrich are together they are called a herd.
  • Even thought they can’t fly, the ostrich is a very strong runner. The ostrich can sprint up to 43 miles (70 kilometers) an hour and run over a distance at 31 miles (50 kilometers) an hour. They may use their wings as “rudders” to help them change direction while running.
  • An ostrich’s powerful, long legs can cover 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) in a single stride. These legs can also be used as weapons. Ostrich kicks can kill a human or a potential predator like a lion. Each two-toed foot of the ostrich has a long, sharp claw. All other birds have three or four toes.
  • The ostrich is an omnivore. It eats just about anything including plants, fruit, roots, insects, lizards and small rodents. In the stomach of an ostrich, small rocks, sand and clams can be found which help to absorb the food.
  • The average lifespan of an ostrich in the wild is 30 to 40 years, but they can live to be 50 – 75 years old. When fully grown, an ostrich has one of the most advanced immune systems known to mankind.
  • The ostrich can be from 7 to 9 ft (2.1 to 2.7 m) tall and weight from 220 to 350 lbs (100 to 160 kg). Adult males are eight to ten feet in height and weigh 350-400 pounds. A male ostrich is called a rooster and a female ostrich is called a hen.
  • The male is black with white wing tips and tail plumes. The female has light brown and grey plumage and is slightly smaller than the male. The ostrich has the largest eyes of any land animal. Each eye measures almost 2 inches (5 cm) across.
  • Although an ostrich egg is the largest of all eggs, it is small compared to the size of the bird that laid the egg. The ostrich lays the heaviest egg and the hen lays six to eight of them while she’s at it. Each egg is about six inches long and weighs up to 2½ pounds (1600 gm). That’s 24 chicken eggs in volume.
  • An ostrich hen can lay 40 -100 eggs per year, averaging about 60 eggs per year. Ostrich eggs hatch in 42 days. An ostrich chick grows one foot taller each month until it is 7-8 months old. Females sit on eggs during the day and males sit on eggs at night.
  • Ostrich farming produces fine quality leather, feathers and gourmet meat. Ostrich farming is one of the most open, free range farming alternatives available anywhere in the world today. Ostrich meat is a red meat and is very low in cholesterol, calories and is almost fat free.
  • Ostrich are successfully farmed in at least 50 countries. They are farmed from the coldest climates of Alaska to the equatorial areas of central Africa.
  • There is a belief that the ostrich buries its head in the sand. It isn’t true, but this belief probably originated because of one of the ostrich’s defensive behaviors.
  • When in trouble, the ostrich will lie low and press their heads and necks into the soil in an attempt to become invisible. When observed, this behavior might look like the ostrich is burying its head in the sand.

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