Sydney Zoo | Ostrich
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Species Struthio camelus
Ostrich Distribution MapDistribution
Top speed
Favourite Food
Grasses, leaves and roots

Male ostriches are polygamous (have more than one mate), however they do tend to only nest with a single preferred mate. This chosen hen will lay approximately six to eight eggs in a shallow depression in the ground over a two week period. These eggs will be added to by other females who are ultimately chased away by the male leaving the chosen male and female to incubate the eggs for about 42 days. Usually, the female will incubate the eggs during the day with the male taking over during the night.

Despite being the largest egg of all bird species, the ostrich egg is the smallest egg in relation to the size of the bird; measuring approximately 1% of the hen’s body mass.

Ostriches are omnivorous and although their diet is mainly made up of grasses, roots and seeds they have also been known to also eat insects, lizards, snakes and rodents in the wild. To cope with this harsh diet, the intestines of an ostrich measure 14m (twice as long as a humans). Like most birds, an ostrich eats sand and small stones to help break down food in their gizzard.

Conservation Status

Did You Know?

Despite being the largest bird in the world, an Ostrich’s brain is actually smaller than its eyeball.