Limpopo Wildlife Training Facebook  Africa Expection Linkedin  

Ostrich

The Ostrich (struthio camelus) is native to Africa and a member of a group of birds known as ratites that are flightless birds without a keel to their breastbone. Of the 8,600 bird species which exist today, the ostrich is the largest and lays the largest eggs of any living bird (The average egg weighs about 3 pounds.). These huge birds cannot fly, but can run at up to about 70 km/h (19 m/s; 43 mph), the fastest land speed of any bird.

The common Ostriches are mainly vegetarian, though it also eats invertebrates. They swallow large numbers of pebbles which help grind the harder food in the gizzard and aid digestion.

Ostriches normally mate for life, and they share the task of incubating the eggs. Mating includes elaborate displays of hisses and dancing. Once divided into mating groups, ostriches in some areas use communal nests to hold anywhere from 14 to 60 eggs. The nest is a hole scraped in bare ground about 1 to 2 feet deep.

The male, which has mostly black feathers, sits on the eggs at night, and the drab, brown female who lays up to 20 eggs, covers them during the day. In this way, the nest is much harder to see. If threatened while sitting on the nest, which is simply a cavity scooped in the earth, the hen presses her long neck flat along the ground to blend with the background or run away. If cornered, it can attack with a kick of its powerful legs. Ostriches, contrary to popular belief, do not bury their heads in the sand.

The common ostrich is farmed around the world, particularly for its feathers, which are decorative and are also used as feather dusters. Its skin is used for leather products and its meat is marketed commercially, with its leanness a common marketing point

Most wild ostriches are found in fragmented groups in West, East and South Africa with the majority living in protected game reserves on the east of the continent. They are well adapted to living in dry conditions and are able to survive dehydration of up to 25%.