Common Ostrich

Struthio camelus

Ostriches are the only bird who walks on two toes.

Take a peek at some ostrich feet and you’ll see two toes on each foot. All other birds have three or four toes. The largest toe carries most of their weight and the smaller toe is used for balance.

Male ostriches blush in breeding season.

The pale skin of their legs and necks becomes flushed, filling with blood and becoming redder. This bright color tells the females they are ready to mate.

One ostrich egg makes a 24-egg omelet.

A single ostrich egg weighs about the same as two dozen chicken eggs. They are edible but hard to crack, thanks to a shell that’s ten times thicker than a chicken’s egg.

Animal Facts

  • Range Currently throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Historically they were also found in the Arabian Peninsula and into Asia.
  • Habitat These birds live in semi-arid plains, from savannas to deserts, as well as open woodlands.
  • Diet Ostriches are mainly herbivores and eat buds, leaves, seeds, and flowers. On occasion, they will also eat lizards, invertebrates, and carrion. At the Zoo they eat alfalfa and oat hay, alfalfa pellets, fresh vegetables and fruit, and grass.
  • Size Males are 6.9 - 9.2 feet tall and females are 5.6 - 6.6 feet tall. Their weight ranges from 139 – 320 pounds.
  • Location in Zoo African Adventure
  • Conservation Status Least Concern. Ostriches are plentiful; however their range is being reduced by habitat destruction.

Did You Know?

The backwards-bending part of an ostrich’s leg is often called a knee, but it’s actually an ankle! A bird’s knee is much higher up, and usually hidden by the feathers of their wings or body.