When we talk about birds, we usually discuss their ability to fly. However, there are some birds who can’t fly, like penguins, for example, what we’ve already discussed. But there is another bird that can’t fly, but is actually more fascinating because of that and many other things. So, without further ado, 15 Unbelievable Facts About Ostriches, ladies and gentlemen.
- Like we’ve already mentioned, ostriches are flighteless birds, but they are also the largest birds on Earth. They are about 2.7 meters or 8.8 feet tall and weigh about 159 kilograms or 350 pounds. Ostriches tower over the second-tallest bird in the world – emu, who can be 189 centimetres or 6.2 feet. They also out weigh the second heaviest animal – the cassowary by almost 90 kilograms or 200 pounds. And that’s a big one from the 15 Unbelievable Facts About Ostriches.
- Ostriches have an excellent eyesight. Partially because of how large their eyes are. They can be 5 centimetres or 2 inches in diameter or about the size of a billiard ball. On top of that. each of their eyes are bigger than their brain. All of this helps them to see predators, like lions, from miles away.
- Ostriches also have three stomachs.
- They used to live all over Africa, in parts of Asia and the Arabian peninsula, but, mainly because of human hunting and habitat destruction, they now live in parts of grasslands, woodlands and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa.
- Unlike all other living birds, ostriches secrete feces and urine separately.
- On top of being the largest birds in the world, ostriches are also the fastest bipedal animals on the planet. When sprinting, for short distances, they can reach speeds of 70 kilometers or 43 miles per hour. And, on top of that, they have incredible endurance. They can run at speeds of 48 kilometers or 30 miles per hour for 10 miles, making them one of the best endurance runners in the animal kingdom, on mother Earth.
- While most birds have either 4 or 3 toes, ostriches have only two. This is believed to be an evolutionary trait which helps them to run more efficiently. For example, horses, camels and antelopes have also ditched their extra toes to be better at running.
- Everyone knows that wings help birds to fly. What many people don’t know is that wings also perform other functions. In the case of ostriches, they don’t fly, but their wings serve as rudders while they are running. When turning, breaking, or running in zig-zags, from predators, they use their wings to help them stay balanced. This explains why certain dinosaurs, the ancestors of modern birds, developed feathers before they could fly.
- Ostriches are omnivores. They mainly eat plant-based foods like plants, leaves, nuts, berries, flowers and grass, but they are also known to consume insects, snakes, lizards, and even rodents. They consume about 2.5 kilograms or 5.5 pounds of food a day.
- Ostriches also put sand and pebbles to help them grind their food. They actually carry about 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of sand or pebbles in their mouths everywhere they go.
- While they consume quite a bit of food on a daily basis, ostriches often drink water every few days, because they can live off metabolic water and moisture in ingested roots, seeds and insects. Although they do tend to drink water when they find it and even bathe in it, when they can.
- Because ostriches are birds – they lay eggs. Females can lay up to 11 eggs in communal nests – where they are the safest, and about 2 to 6 in other not-so-safe nests. Alpha males and dominant females then defend these nests and take turns incubating the eggs. It takes about 40 days for new ostrich chicks to be born, already being able to walk and run, and they stay with their mothers for about 18 months and then become full self-sufficient ostriches. And speaking of their eggs, ostrich eggs are the largest eggs in the world. They average around 15 centimetres or 6 inches in length and weigh up to a 1.5 kilograms or 3.3 pounds.
- Ostriches are social animals and they tend to live in groups (called herds) consisting of about 12 members. Males compete for dominance in the social hierarchy to become leaders of these herds and get to mate with females. Each group has a dominant hen (female ostrich) who will only mate with the alpha male, while the alpha male might mate with any female.
- In the wild, ostriches tend to live to be 30 to 40 years of age. But in captivity, they can actually reach 70 years, meaning they survive many humans, and they also mate well into the old age.
- Have you heard about the whole ostriches-shove-their-heads-into-sand-when-they’re-scared thing? Well, surprise, surprise – It’s a myth. They don’t shove their heads into the ground. This myth likely comes from the fact that, when in danger, ostriches often lower their bodies and, especially, heads all the way to the ground, to disappear from the horizon, blend into the landscape and become a lot less visible to predators.
And that’s it. Ostriches are some of the most, if not the most, fascinating birds on the planet. They are so special that they just have to be talked about. That being said, I hope that you have learned something new about these magnificent animals. And that is all for the 15 Unbelievable Facts About Ostriches.