Ostriches commonly weigh as much as two adult humans. Their weight range is 63 to 145 kilograms. Generally, male ostriches are heavier than female ones. In exceptional cases, a male ostrich can weigh up to 156.8 kg. An adult male ostrich can be 2.1-2.8 meters tall. The height of the female ostriches ranges from 1.7-2.0 meters. An ostrich can live up to 40-45 years.
In most of the cases, an adult male has black feathers. The flight feathers and tail are white. Adult female ostriches and young males have grayish-brown and white feathers. The head and neck of an ostrich are mostly bare. In females, the neck and thighs are pinkish-grey.
Their long necks and legs keep their head 2.8 m above the ground. They have the largest eyes of any other animal or bird. Their toes are specifically adapted for fast running. A common ostrich can run over at a speed of over 70 km/h. They can cover 3-5 meters in a single stride.
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Range & habitat
Ostriches are commonly found in Africa. As it is said earlier there are four living subspecies of the ostrich. They come under the category of Common ostrich (S. camelus).
Previously ostriches lived in North Africa and south of the Sahara, East Africa, Africa south of the rainforest belt, and most parts of Asia Minor. Now they live in the savannas and Sahel of Africa. They are also found in the north and south of the equatorial forest zone.
Let’s have a look at each of the species and know where you can spot them easily.
North African ostrich (S. c. camelus)
North African ostriches are also called red-necked ostrich or Barbary ostrich. Previously it lived in 18 North African countries but now they are found in only 6 countries. It is the largest subspecies. Its height is 2.74 m and weight is 154 kg. They are found in the following regions:
- North Africa: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, etc.
- Western Africa: Cameroon, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, etc.
South African ostrich (S. c. australis)
South African ostrich is also known as black-necked ostrich, Cape ostrich, or southern ostrich. They are found in the following areas of Southern Africa:
Masai ostrich (S. c. massaicus)
Masai ostrich is also known as pink-necked ostrich for its pink neck. It is also called the East African ostrich. Masai ostrich can be found in the following regions of Eastern Africa:
Somali ostrich (S. molybdophanes)
For their blue neck, Somali ostriches are also called blue-necked ostrich. They are mostly found in the following places of Northeastern Africa:
- Southern Ethiopia
- Northeastern Kenya
Ostriches mainly eat plant matter and also eat different kinds of insects like locusts. They eat seeds, shrubs, grass, fruit, and flowers. For the lack of teeth, they swallow pebbles to grind the food they eat.
Ostriches can store as much as 1,300 grams of food inside their gizzards. They can live without drinking water for several days. Then they use metabolic water and moisture of plants for supplying water into cells. They have this adaption to the scarcity of water sources in the area they live in.
Behavior & lifestyle
Ostriches spend the winter season in forming pairs or sometimes alone. During the time of mating and at extremely dry periods of a year, they form groups of 5-100 birds. These groups are generally led by top females. In the groups, ostriches graze like zebras. Ostriches remain mostly active during early hours and late hours in the day.
For their strong vision and hearing capacities, they can sense threats like lions from a long distance. If they face any predator they run away at a speed reaching up to 70 km/h. They can maintain a fixed speed of 50 km/h. It makes the ostrich the fastest two-legged animal in the world. Their legs are also strong enough to kill a predator or can cause serious injury to it.
Sometimes while lying down they show an interesting behavior. They lay their necks and heads flat on the ground to appear like a mound. From a distance, predators think it to be a mound on earth and turn their way.
Fun ostrich facts
Here is a list of “Top 10 Fun Ostrich Facts”. The facts about the fastest bird on the planet will definitely amaze you!
- An ostrich has just two toes on each foot, unlike other birds. Most birds have four toes.
- Ostriches have a special kind of pubic bones that are joined to hold their gut.
- They can only kick forward. That’s why while confronting a predator they turn around only when they can kick them in the face!
- They don’t hide their head in the sand. It’s a myth! They lay flat and from a distance, their heads seem like buried in the sand. But it’s not true. They just lay their head flat.
- They can hold 1,300 grams of the food. In this amount, 45% is only sand and pebbles. It means they store 585 grams of just sands and pebbles inside their gizzards!
- Females mature about six months earlier than male ostriches.
- Ostriches maintain privacy while mating just like us!
- Both male and female ostriches perform a series of rituals before finally mating. (Alas! Not like us)
- Ostriches can survive losing up to 25% of their body weight through dehydration.
- If humans raise an ostrich, at maturity the ostrich will try to impress humans for mating! (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2834025.stm)
Meet the ostrich
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