If you’re thinking about getting into ostrich farming, you might be wondering, “how aggressive are domestic ostriches”? The answer might surprise you! Read on…
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Are Domestic Ostriches Friendly or Dangerous?
If you’re thinking about raising ostriches for their eggs, meat, or for breeding as pets, you might be wondering if they are friendly or dangerous.
The answer is complicated.
Like any other wild animal, ostriches can be both friendly and dangerous depending on their temperaments and natural dispositions, the specific conditions, and other factors.
Especially when their territory, eggs, or little ones are threatened or attacked, ostriches can be dangerous and downright mean. In fact, there have been countless recollections of events in which ostriches took on aggressors like tigers and lions without appearing to have a second thought.
Ostriches generally do not attack unless they feel threatened or cornered, their young or eggs are threatened, or it is breeding season.
Nevertheless, and despite their tenacious nature and their large size, many people do choose to raise ostriches domestically. There are a few ways to make this safer and easier, which we will detail below.
Are Ostriches Naturally Aggressive?
When threatened, ostriches usually run away. However, if they feel the need to stand their ground, they can attack with their powerful legs, often inflicting serious injury and even death with the kicks from their legs.
They don’t have teeth, so biting shouldn’t be a concern. However, they can deliver a vicious peck.
Both domestic and wild ostriches have been known to attack humans, with their aggressive behaviors instinctual and largely the same regardless of their captivity status. When attacking a person, most ostriches will deliver slashing kicks with their strong feet.
These feet, armed with long claws, can disembowel or instantly kill a person with a single blow.
One defense mechanism of ostriches is to feign injury. This creates a distraction to help divert the attention of a predator away from the young and toward the adults. Again, ostriches are quite capable of defending themselves with the use of these antics and their other aggressive behaviors- they have even been known to kill lions!
Other Interesting Facts About Ostriches
Also known as Struthio camelus, ostriches are primarily found in sub-Saharan areas of Africa. These large birds are massive, reaching up to 320 lbs and standing up to nine feet tall.
Ostriches live for quite a long time, up to 45 years, in fact. They have large eyes – the largest of any land vertebrate – and they cannot fly because they have no keel.
For much of the year, they tend to be mostly solitary, spending the winter months either in pairs or alone. During the breeding season, however, ostriches travel in packs of up to 100 birds that travel together with other grazing animals like antelopes and zebras. They are diurnal but occasionally active on moonlit nights.
Ostriches have strong hearing and eyesight, enabling them to view threats from far away. Although this means they are quite good at detecting predators, it also means you’ll need to exercise caution when approaching ostriches as you aren’t likely to go unnoticed.
One final thing to keep in mind when raising ostriches is that you might become an unintended object of their affections. If you’re raising ostriches from birth and do not have mixed-sex groups, you may find that their courtship behavior is not directed at other ostriches – but instead, at you!
What Do You Do When an Ostrich Attacks?
Preventing an ostrich attack is obviously going to be the best way to survive one. Barring that, though, there are a few strategies you can rely on to survive an ostrich attack.
If you are forced to defend yourself against an ostrich, avoid close quarters. Get as far out of reach of the ostrich’s legs as you can, since these are going to be its most formidable weapon. Use the longest, closest object you can to defend yourself, such as a pole or branch.
Try to keep to the ostrich’s side. You’ll be the most at risk when you’re face to face, as it is only able to kick its legs directly in front of itself. Stay either behind the bird or to its side to keep clear of the legs.
If you need to strike with your stick, aim for the neck. This is the weakest body part and where the animal is the most vulnerable. Often, with one strike, the ostrich will run away. If that doesn’t happen, the next best targets are the breast and wings.
When an ostrich charges you, you aren’t going to have much luck running away. If there’s dense vegetation or some other form of cover, like a car, that’s close enough for you to reach before the ostrich reaches you, head for that. It will be harder for the ostrich to get to you if there’s some sort of cover.
Lying on the ground might work if you don’t have enough time or there’s too much distance between you and the closest cover to run away. Playing dead will show an ostrich that you’re no longer a threat. This is a last-ditch effort, but if you lay down and press your stomach to the ground (be sure to cover your head with your arms to protect your skull), you may be able to survive.
Finally, hide when you can. Ostriches won’t attack you out of hunger -they aren’t going to eat you. They’ll only be attacking you because they feel provoked and threatened in some way, not because they are hungry. Therefore, if you can duck behind some sort of cover that conceals you from the view of the ostrich, you’ll be able to stay much safer.
Looking for more tips on protecting yourself from an ostrich? Here’s a video you can watch:
How to Prevent Ostrich Attacks
In the wild, ostriches usually avoid humans, assessing them as potential predators. When approached, they typically run away.
However, if you corner an ostrich, you are more likely to be attacked. Therefore, it’s a good idea to give an ostrich a wide berth so it doesn’t feel as though you are cornering it.
Similarly, avoid getting near an ostrich if it is guarding a territory item (like food) or its young. These behaviors are instinctive, meaning an ostrich might feel threatened even if you’ve been around it for its entire life.
Ostriches are also very quick, meaning you won’t be very successful at outrunning one if it does attack. An ostrich can easily run at 30 miles per hour (often more, at top speeds, with their long legs covering up to 16 feet in a single stride.
The best thing you can do to prevent an ostrich attack? Steer clear and keep your distance. Respect the ostrich, and the ostrich will respect you.