Ostriches are amazing animals. Although they are birds, they cannot fly, but they have so many other cool things that make them interesting. See if you know these facts about them.
1. One of a kind
The ostrich, native to Africa, is the world’s largest bird, weighing up to 150kg. The females are light brown while the males boast striking black and white feathers.
2. Healthy appetite
Ostriches eat both plants and meat, making them omnivores. They prefer to munch on roots, seeds and leaves, but will also feed on small animals such as locusts, lizards and snakes. Since they do not have teeth, ostriches swallow sand and pebbles to help grind up their food inside the gizzard before it goes to the stomach.
3. Sunny-side up
The ostrich’s eggs are larger than that of any other bird, and can be around 15cm long and weigh as much as 24 chicken eggs. Interestingly, relative to the size of the adult ostrich, their eggs are actually smaller than that of other birds.
4. Eye spy
When it comes to size, the ostrich wins in almost all categories! He has the largest eyes of all land animals, measuring around 5cm across. This helps him to keep an eye out for predators.
5. Similar, yet different
The ostrich has a few things in common with an animal who is actually not much like him at all – the camel! Even the ostrich’s scientific name reminds of the camel: Struthio camelus. What they have in common are protruding eyes framed by long lashes, the ability to survive in very warm temperatures as well as going without water for long periods of time, getting enough moisture from their food.
6. Look at those legs!
Seeing an ostrich run is quite a sight. But they are well equipped for speeds of up to 50km/h with long, strong legs. They can cover 3-5m in only one stride! Sprinting is then also how they get away from potential danger. However, if they need to fight, they are capable of delivering a deadly kick. Unlike humans and many other animals, their legs bend backward, making it possible for the ostrich to kick something in front of him.
7. Head in the sand
It is commonly believed that ostriches bury their heads in the sand to hide from potential threats, but this is just a myth. What actually happens when an ostrich feels threatened is that he lies low, pressing his long neck to the ground to become less visible. Due to his colouring he is now well camouflaged, making it look from a distance like he has buried his head in the sand.
8. Versatile wings
With a wingspan of about 2m, one would think the ostrich would be a master of flying, but actually he can’t fly at all. Those wings come in handy for other things though! They are used in a mating ‘dance’ to impress a female who a male has his eye on, to provide shade for chicks, to help the ostrich change direction while running, and to keep the naked skin on the ostrich’s upper legs warm.
9. Perfect parents
Ostrich babies hatch from their eggs after around 42 to 46 days, and at birth they are the size of a chicken. The male and female ostriches both take care of the young. Should they be attacked by a predator, the male will try to lure the threat away from the chicks, while they run for cover with the female.
10. Funny feet
While most birds have four toes, the ostrich only has two. The larger one of the toes has a nail that almost resembles a hoof, which adds more punch to his dangerous kick! The fact that he has fewer toes aids the ostrich in achieving high running speeds.