The ostrich is the giant, longest and heaviest bird in the world, and its scientific name is (Struthio camelus). Its weight can reach 160 kg, while its average length reaches more than 2 m, and it can reach up to 2.8 m, and its speed It may reach 69 km/h.
The ostrich is one of the birds that do not fly; however, it is one of the fastest birds in running. The long and strong legs help it to be fast and quick. In addition, it uses them to defend itself by kicking predators that try to attack it, and it should be noted that this bird can go for several days without needing to drink water.
The ostrich can be found on farms all over the world, but its native habitat is in the savannah (extended vegetation cover under dry and hot conditions), and the largest areas of savanna are located in Africa, South America, Australia, India, Burma, Thailand, Madagascar, and the forests of Africa.
Ostriches sometimes gather in groups of up to 100 birds, but most of them consist of groups of up to 10 birds, according to the San Diego Zoo, and the group consists of a male and female sovereign, along with a number of females.
There are now five species out of nine original ostriches and less than 150,000 ostriches in the wild. These numbers are few and threatened with extinction, but farms in Africa and Europe help reduce their extinction rate, and the most important factors that must be taken into account are to preserve this species of birds: stop poaching and preserve the natural environment from any danger.
Ostriches need an environment with vegetation and open water sources, especially since this species of bird is unable to fly and cannot rely on vegetation only as a source of water.
Ostriches General Features
This bird has a set of distinctive formal characteristics, and some of these characteristics come as follows:
The bird is the largest bird in the world, with a length of about 2.7 m.
The bird may weigh approximately 145 kg. Its body is distinguished by its round shape.
The bird has large eyes, which are the largest eyes of a wild animal in the world, with a diameter of about 5 cm.
The feathers tend to be pale brown, which helps her to hide, while the male has black and white feathers and uses them to attract females. The bird feathers are distinguished by being shaggy and loose, hanging from his body instead of sticking to it like the rest of the birds.
The legs are the legs of the bird. Long and thin, which helps it to run at a great speed of up to 64.3 km per hour, and also helps to carry the large body in balance.
It is the only bird on this planet that has only two toes on each of its feet.
The ostrich’s beak is described as broad and flat.
The neck of the bird is distinguished by being very long and feather free.
The bird has small wings relative to its size, as the length of the wings together reaches about 2 m.
The wild ostrich lives in the dry and hot savannas of Africa and can be found throughout Asia, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, but due to widespread hunting, the range in which wild ostriches live has shrunk to sub-Saharan Africa, but ostriches can be found in captivity all over the world.
There are several breeds of ostriches, such as:
1. North African ostrich
It is also called the pink-necked ostrich, as this breed is distinguished by having necks with pink skin, and it is also distinguished as the longest species of it in the world, with a length of about 2.7 m. This strain is found in certain parts of northern Africa.
2. East African ostrich
An East African ostrich or Masai is a breed distinguished by the small feathers on its head. The male is distinguished by its ability to turn the colour of its neck and thighs pink to attract females. This breed is found in eastern Africa, such as in the state of Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
3. South African ostrich
The South African ostrich is found in the southern regions of the continent, specifically in the areas south of the Zambezi and Kunene rivers.
4. Somali ostrich
The Somali ostrich is distinguished by the fact that the size of its females is larger than the size of the males, and it has white feathers with the presence of some brown feathers in the females, such as in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
In the mid-seventies of the nineteenth and early 20th centuries, Australia had a large number of farms for ostriches, but in the year 1914, animal agriculture related to ostriches disappeared in Australia, to be revived again in the late seventies of the twentieth century, and grey ostriches abound in Australia.
Ostrich Behavioural Characteristics
The bird is characterised by a group of behaviours, including the following:
1. Inability to Fly
Even though the bird has wings, it cannot fly as a heavy bird, but it uses its wings to change its direction during Running.
2. Social life
The bird lives in small flocks of about ten birds, and the strongest male in the group is the leader, and there is usually a dominant female.
The ostrich presses its head and neck to the surface of the earth when danger approaches to become less visible to the enemy. It appears from afar that it has buried its head in the sand that mixes with it, just as the bird defends itself using its long legs, so kicking one of these legs may lead to the killing of a predator. One of the ostriches’ means of defending itself is rapid running, and if it feels danger, one step from it is equivalent to a distance of about 3-5 m.
Ostriches do not follow migratory behaviour, as they often stay in the same place where they live throughout the year.
The bird can make a loud roar and a sharp hiss, which are sounds made by males to intimidate each other.
This bird feeds on insects, snakes, lizards and rodents, but it feeds mainly and more on plants as a herbivore, so it eats roots, leaves, seeds, flowers, and fruits. In order for it to survive, large amounts of food weigh up to 3.5 kg on a daily basis.
It is fed with special pellets from birds, in addition to types of vegetables, such as carrots and broccoli. The bird is distinguished by its ability to survive if it does not drink water for long periods, as it gets its needs of water from the food it eats.
How do ostrich digest food?
The bird usually swallows pebbles, sand, and stones. Small, in order to help him grind food in the crop, and he also has a solid intestine, which enables him to eat any type of food, even those that are difficult to digest, and the length of this intestine reaches about 14 meters, in order to help absorb the largest possible number of nutrients.
When the bird eats its food, it collects it in its giblets at the top of the throat and does not swallow the food except when it becomes a large mass in the giblets. This mass slips into the throat, and it is the ostrich’s means of eating its food because it does not have teeth.
How do ostrich mate?
The mating season between ostriches extends from March to September, and the male begins to attract the female by making a series of movements. The male displays its strength and its feathers as it shakes its feathers, moves his tail up and down, and bows to the ground, and the male mates with about 3-5 females at a time if he is a dominant male, but he is only associated with one female.
The eggs are the largest bird eggs in the world, weighing about 1.5 kg, and their dimensions are estimated at about 15 lengths x 12 widths. The thickness of their shell is about 2 mm, and the colour is bright white. After fertilisation, females lay their eggs in a simple hole in the ground called the communal nest, which can accommodate about 60 eggs.
One female can lay a number of eggs ranging between 7–10 eggs, and usually, the dominant female’s egg is in the centre. Then males and females take turns guarding the nest, and the eggs need a period ranging between 42–46 days to hatch.
The young bird come out of the eggs, and their size is similar to the size of a chicken, and the parents protect their young under their wings until they grow up, and the young bird needs about six months to reach the size of its parents, and for a period ranging from two to 3 years until it reaches the age of maturity.
What Benefits do ostrich offer for both environment and humans?
The benefits of this bird for the environment and humans are numerous. Some of these benefits come as follows:
Use of feathers in industries
Feathers were used in the past as a way to decorate hats and in various high-end fashions, but they have become a limited industry at the present time.
Nutritional and medical benefits
The bird was raised on farms to take advantage of its eggs and its meat, which is desirable because of its low cholesterol.
Ostrich oils also contain compounds with therapeutic benefits that are used in the manufacture of some medicines.
Disposing of the corpses of animals
The bird gets rid of the remains of the corpses of animals that were prey to large animals, such as lions and feeds on them.
Part of the food chain
The bird is part of the food chain in the environment, as it is food for some predators, such as crocodiles, lions, leopards, and others.
How to raise ostriches?
Ostrich birds are considered one of the large domesticated birds, the largest bird in the world. It is characterised by its remarkable ability to adapt to the weather and its spread in many regions around the world, and with knowledge of the correct method of dealing with and raising ostriches, ostriches have become one of the animals that are raised on farms and homes, the following is an explanation:
Taking care of the eggs until they hatch
It starts with the egg, which is kept for seven days in arboreal areas with temperatures ranging between 12.8–18.3 degrees Celsius and a humidity of 70%. Then the egg is transferred to the incubation area for a period of 42 days, during which it gradually increases the temperature from 15.5 to 36.6 degrees Celsius and reduces the humidity to a level of 25%.
Caring for young ostriches
Ostrich chicks often hatch after an incubation period of 42 days, and when they come out of the egg, they need to be kept for several days in a place with a temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, and temperatures can be gradually reduced to 26.6 degrees Celsius. This point is very important because the chicks will accumulate on top of each other in cold weather, and many of them will die.
Ostrich chicks need to provide good ground separated from the large ones for their upbringing because the large ones may kill them, and it also stops laying eggs when it sees the presence of chicks among them. It is mentioned that the preferred area for correct breeding should be at least 12 square meters. It is recommended to place clean carpets under the chicks, and before laying the carpets, their edges should be removed so that they do not get tangled with the ostriches’ legs or eat them.
Every 6 to 10 chicks are placed in one area, and before laying the carpet, the breeder makes sure that the ground is level, as the uneven ground contributes to the emergence of problems with the chick’s toes. It is also preferable to turn this carpet over and clean it every period of time and change it when there are new small chicks.
Preparing enough space for raising ostriches
Ostriches prefer large spaces to live and move around in. It is a moving bird and requires a lot of activity, as the area of the ostrich farm must not be less than 13,277 m2, as the narrow space affects the psychology of the bird, and it may not lay eggs in it, just as overcrowding affects the feathers and leads to their plucking.
Building a strong fence surrounding the farm
The ostriches move a lot, and they are ready to jump over the short barriers. Here, a fence must be built higher than the ostriches, which are more than 1.8 meters long, so the length of the fence must not be less than 2.75 meters, and the fence walls must be strong. Well-welded barbed wire is used in building the fence, and it must contain openings whose dimensions do not exceed 5–10 cm because the bird may stick its head in the large openings, and after the fence is finished, it is covered with a quantity of dirt.
Keeping the ostriches warm
The ostriches live in nature in deserts and warm places, and when building a farm in a cold area, the owner needs to provide warmth for the ostriches, so the investor needs to provide heating devices and water heaters for the birds, but one must beware of electric heaters and exposed wires, as the bird is a very curious animal, and it may peck on heaters and wires, causing electric shocks that lead to his death.
Building a private residence for each ostrich
A separate shelter is built on the ostrich farm for each one, or a small number of them, because of its preference for isolation during rest times. The dimensions of the shelter are as follows: length 3.66 m, width 1.83 m, and height 2.44 m.
A single door and a strong roof are installed for each shelter to protect from wind, rain, and volatile weather conditions. In hot climates, water sprinklers are installed to protect from the sun, as the exposure of ostriches to them reduces male fertility.
Ostriches are fed a balanced diet consisting of 60% of plants, 15% of fruits and legumes, 20% of grains, salts and stones, and 5% of insects and small animals, and the following is an explanation of the appropriate food ingredients for ostriches:
1. Small animals
They eat Lots of small animals, such as bugs, mice, snakes, lizards, cockroaches, and locusts.
They eat rocks and pebbles from time to time, and their aim is to help grind the food they consume because ostriches do not have stomach stones like other birds, and there are no teeth to cut solid food.
3. Additives substances
Additives must be added to the food, especially small ones, such as vitamins and various minerals.
Ostriches feed on many plants, such as green herbs, plant seeds, buds, leaves and wild bushes, berries, carrots, chopped beets, cabbage, and oranges.
Preserving their safety
Ostriches are exposed to many accidents, such as eating nails, paint chips, harmful materials, or hanging their heads in a narrow space, so the breeder must search for the best means of protection for the bird, put equipment, food, and nutrients in a safe place, and keep food and harmful plants away from ostriches.
Preserving the health of ostriches
The treatment of ostriches and maintaining their health requires a permanent review of a specialised veterinarian, as the doctor helps to detect ostrich problems quickly, treats infected chicks professionally, provides appropriate health and nutritional advice for birds, and provides the breeder with the necessary health certificates for raising ostriches.
Doctors provide some medicines that help eliminate diseases and are used for birds, such as chloramphenicol and sulfa drugs. It is indicated that many signs of disease may appear on ostriches, such as:
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Breathing difficulties.
- General laziness.
- Loss of feathers or fluffed feathers.
- Nasal gonorrhoea.
- Joint swelling.
If you enjoyed learning about this facinating animal why not check out more fantastic facts about other animals: Koalas, Land Animals, Sharks, Raccoons, Moon and Sun Bears, Rats, Sheep, Chickens, Cats, Pandas, Monkeys and Whales.
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