Picture of an ostrich - what do they eat?

What Do Ostriches Eat? The Answer May Surprise You

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Did you know the ostrich can run up to 43 miles per hour? They’re so fast that they can cover up to five meters in one stride! Ostriches are beautiful and fascinating creatures, but what do ostriches eat?

If you’ve been looking to learn more about ostriches, we’re here to help. So read on for a quick guide on what they eat, how much, and how they find it!

What Do Ostriches Eat?

If you have a pet ostrich, you may wonder what to feed an ostrich. To answer this question, you must look at what ostriches eat in the wild.

In terms of plants, you can usually find an ostrich seeking out the following flora for a meal:

  • Edible flowers
  • Berries
  • Grass, shrubs, and bushes
  • Succulent plants
  • Sprouts of edible plants
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Edible roots

But sometimes, plants don’t make a filling enough meal! If the opportunity arises, you can find ostriches eating the following animals:

  • Insects; mostly locusts and crickets
  • Lizards and other small reptiles
  • Small tortoises
  • Snakes of most sizes
  • Frogs and toads.
  • Small rodents such as mice

What Do Ostriches Drink?

Ostriches typically don’t need to drink, as they get all the hydration they need from their diets. But, if they come across a watering hole, they have been known to stop for a drink.

What Are Ostriches?

Ostriches are flightless birds native to Africa. They’re the largest living bird series and are commonly mistaken for the Emu, but they differ considerably.

An ostrich diet is wide and varied. The large birds are omnivorous, meaning they eat plants and animals alike. Few things aren’t on the menu for these swift creatures!

How Do Ostriches Hunt?

Ostriches mostly hunt in solitude or by opportunity. Prey, such as locusts, are usually found in their plant-based food. This makes it so that an ostrich can often combine meals and rarely only eat one type of food.

Additionally, ostriches will take the opportunity to scavenge carrion as a buzzard might. If they come across the bodies of animals that a predator, such as a lion, took down, they’ll usually try to sneak a bite.

If observing an ostrich, you’ll see them eat sand and small rocks. These help the ostrich to grind their food, as ostriches do not have teeth. It’s not uncommon for an ostrich to eat a meal and then wash it down with a mouthful of sand!

How Much Does an Ostrich Eat?

Ostriches eat quite a bit to make up the energy of their fast-paced lives. In captivity, an ostrich eats up to four pounds of food. This usually counts the weight of gravel and stones fed to the ostriches to help them grind up their food. Most ostrich food is made up of plants or fruits.

What Eats Ostriches?

Ostriches have several natural predators. You can expect to find the following hunting or eating an ostrich:

  • Crocodiles
  • Hyenas
  • Cheetahs
  • Wild dogs
  • Leopards
  • Lions

Animals such as jackals, warthogs, and even mongooses will steal eggs or eat the young ostriches.

Tips from Our Vets

Though it may seem weird to try to identify different animals’ feces, there are many cases where you may need to do exactly that.

Many home and property owners come across animal feces and are concerned about what animals may be lurking. Being able to identify the feces that wildlife and rodents leave behind will not only let you know what animals are in the area, but also can give clues as to how many of them are present.

At first, it can be distressing to find foreign looking animal feces in your home or on your property. Fears of aggressive or rabid animals, as well as the diseases they may carry are often the first worries.

Protecting your family and pets is of utmost importance. However, taking the time to correctly identify the feces is essential in assessing the threat or risk from the animals.

This research will also enable a home or property owner to devise an effective strategy for keeping any pest animals out of their homes, barns, or other areas where they are not welcome.

Scat Identification Techniques

  1. The first thing to do if you come across scat, or feces from animals, is to observe the location of the droppings. Notice where the feces are in relation to buildings, other structures, other animals, water, roads, and vegetation. Different animals will place their droppings in particular locations and this can be the first clue to identifying them.
  2. Next, observe the placement of the scat. Are the feces hidden or buried? Are they randomly dropped all over an area with seemingly little regard for placement, or are they tucked away in corners or neat piles? These factors can greatly narrow down the list of possible culprits.
  3. Note the size of the scat. If you are investigating feces found in your home or on your property, it is a good idea to obtain a ruler or tape measure that you can use to measure. Some animals’ feces may look identical to others from the same family, and size may be the only distinguishing feature. *REMEMEBR: animal feces can carry both diseases and parasites so they should never be handled without gloves.*
  4. What is the shape of the found fecal matter? Some shape characteristics to look for include if the feces are round, tapered at the ends, completely tubular, round pellets, twisted, or moist mounds.
  5. An additional clue to the species of animal leaving the scat is what is included in the feces. Berries, hair, seeds, and plant parts should all be looked for in the droppings. This information can be used to identify the animal that left it.
  6. Lastly, look around the area where you first identified the scat. In cases of feces from animals that have similar appearing feces to another species, it can be helpful to search for nearby footprints or tracks left by the animals. This can be used to confirm species.

Final Thoughts: Ostrich Diets

Now, if someone asks you, “What do ostriches eat?” you’ll have an answer!

Ostriches are beautiful creatures with a varied and complex diet. Opportunistic, they’ll eat everything from a lion’s leftover dinner to fruit from a tree. Usually, after eating, they’ll consume sand and rocks to help them digest their food!

If you’re looking for more information on animal diets, we created a guide to human foods dogs can and can’t eat, and you can also check out our resources on the diets of various animals below:

Ostrich Diet FAQs

What does an ostrich eat?

In terms of plants, ostriches eat: edible flowers, berries, grass, shrubs, and bushes, succulent plants, sprouts of edible plants, seeds and nuts, and edible roots.

Ostriches will also eat the following animals: insects; mostly locusts and crickets, lizards and other small reptiles, small tortoises, snakes of most sizes, frogs and toads, and small rodents such as mice.

How much does an ostrich eat per day?

Ostriches eat between 3 and 4 pounds of food per day on average.

Does ostrich eat fish?

Ostriches will eat fish if given the chance, but don’t typically hunt it.

What fruit do ostriches eat?

Ostriches eat fruit like figs and berries.

Do ostriches eat snakes?

Yes ostriches do eat snakes.

Do ostriches eat flowers?

Yes ostriches do eat flowers.

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.