Scientific Name: Struthio camelus
Average lifespan in the wild: 30 to 40 years
Size: 7 to 9 ft (2.1 to 2.7 m)
Weight: 220 to 350 lbs (100 to 160 kg)
Group name: Herd
Did you know? The ostrich has the largest eye of any land animal. Its eye measures almost two inches (five centimeters) across.
What does a ostrich look like?
The ostrich is the largest bird in the world. It is flightless and relies on strong legs with two clawed toes used for running and kicking. Males are black with white wing and tail feathers, while females are brownish gray.
With its massive body, long, skinny, bare neck, tiny head and small wings relative to its body, the ostrich looks awkward and out of proportion. The ostrich cannot fly, but this bird can run, traveling up to 45 mph for as long 30 minutes.
Where do ostriches live?
Ostriches typically form mixed-sex herds and travel long distances in search of grass and plants for food. At one time the ostrich could be found across Africa and West Asia. Today, their home range has decreased to only eastern and southern Africa.
What does a ostrich eat?
Ostriches are very adaptable grazers. They will feed on grasses, shrubbery, berries, seeds and succulents. They also eat insects and small reptiles, which they chase in an awkward zigzag pattern. For short periods of time, ostriches can rely on the vegetation they eat for water, but they need open water sources for long term survival. Ostriches typically eat plants, roots, and seeds but will also eat insects, lizards, or other creatures available in their sometimes harsh habitat.
Can an ostrich fly?
Though ostriches cannot fly, ostriches are fleet, strong runners. They can sprint up to 43 miles (70 kilometers) an hour and run over 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 formidable weapons. Ostrich kicks can kill a human or a potential predator like a lion. Each two-toed foot has a long, sharp claw.
How do ostriches live?
Ostriches live in small herds that typically contain less than a dozen birds. Alpha males maintain these herds, and mate with the group's dominant hen. The male sometimes mates with others in the group, and wandering males may also mate with lesser hens. All of the group's hens place their eggs in the dominant hen's nest—though her own are given the prominent center place. The dominant hen and male take turns incubating the giant eggs, each one of which weighs as much as two dozen chicken eggs.
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