Ostriches don't need to drink - they can make their own water internally and top up with what they can extract from vegetation. During the 18th century, it became fashionable to wear feathers and ostriches were hunted almost to extinction to satisfy demand for their large plumes. Once it was discovered that they could be farmed successfully, in 1833, the pressure on wild ostrich populations was lifted.
Did you know?
The eye of an ostrich is almost 5cm across, the largest eye of any land animal.
Scientific name: Struthio camelus
Ostriches get on the treadmill to help work out how fast T-rex could run.
John Hutchinson studies ostriches to work out how fast T-rex were able to run.
Steve dares Naomi to stand on ostrich eggs, with smashing consequences!
In Belfast, Steve dares Naomi to stand on ostrich eggs, with smashing consequences!
Cheetah coalitions take prey by surpise with co-operative hunting.
Three cheetahs work as a team to bring down prey as large as an ostrich. They'll have to watch out for the bird's powerful feet as its sharp toes can inflict a terrible blow. But first they have to see how close they can get before they're spotted...
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The Ostrich can be found in a number of locations including: Africa. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.
The following habitats are found across the Ostrich distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Year assessed: 2009
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The Ostrich or Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is either one or two species of large flightless birds native to Africa, the only living member(s) of the genus Struthio, which is in the ratite family. Some analyses indicate that the Somali Ostrich may be better considered a full species separate from the Common Ostrich, but most taxonomists consider it to be a subspecies.
The ostrich shares the order Struthioniformes with the kiwis, emus, rheas, and cassowaries. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs, and can run at up to about 70 km/h (43 mph), the fastest land speed of any bird. The ostrich is the largest living species of bird and lays the largest eggs of any living bird (extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the giant moa of New Zealand laid larger eggs).
The ostrich's diet consists mainly of plant matter, though it also eats invertebrates. It lives in nomadic groups of 5 to 50 birds. When threatened, the ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground, or run away. If cornered, it can attack with a kick of its powerful legs. Mating patterns differ by geographical region, but territorial males fight for a harem of two to seven females.
The 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.
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