Do Ostriches Eat Stones, Pebbles, And Rocks?

Ostriches are flightless birds having long legs and long a neck. The neck of the ostrich is pretty long and protrudes out from the round fat body of the ostrich. They can run pretty fast and have the largest eye as compared to any other land animal.

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

Male ostrich is black and even has bold strips that they use to attract female ostrich for mating. The female ostrich on the other hand is light brown. These birds are pretty different in many things as compared to other birds.

But these birds can surprise you because of their eating habits and the things they swallow. To your surprise, you may find them swallowing stones, rocks, and pebbles; curious why? Let’s find out.

What does ostrich eat?

Generally, Ostrich can eat a variety of foods like plants, roots, leaves, seeds, small insects, reptiles, small animals, and even other smaller animals.

They are omnivores and so are comfortable eating both plants and animals, for a fact they prefer vegetation more. Ostriches can also go for several days without drinking water, they use the metabolic water taken from the moisture of the food they eat. 

Related Read: Do Ostriches Eat Meat? Are They Safe To Eat?

Does ostrich really eat stones, rocks, and pebbles?

Yes, ostriches eat stones, rocks, pebbles, and other such hard objects. They swallow them as a whole because they do not have teeth to bite or chew the food.

These hard objects help in grinding the food in the gizzard (second stomach) of the bird. These stones, rocks, and other hard substances remain for some time and are replaced from time to time.

Can ostriches eat irons, nails, horseshoes, and other metallic substances?

No, factually speaking ostriches do not eat irons, nails, horseshoes, and other metallic substances. 

Stories of ostrich-eating horseshoes can be found in historical folklore. Many people believed in these assumptions and stories in the past. The beliefs became more concrete when in 1930 an ostrich in a zoo died suddenly. The post-mortem report suggested many bizarre things inside the bird’s stomach like-

  • Cotton gloves
  • Handkerchief 
  • Silk spool
  • Part of a pencil 
  • Halfpennies 
  • Alarm clock key
  • Several pieces of meal and pieces of the key.

The reason for this can be considered the habitat of the bird as the ostrich swallow its food as a whole.

As per the evidence of many experiments completed recently, it is found out that the bird does not have a susceptibility to like iron or any other metal and it rejects it. Feeding any metal can be fatal for the bird.

How many years can ostrich live?

The lifespan of an ostrich is around 40 to 45 years. There are many exceptions to it as well. In zoos, ostriches can even survive up to 70 to 75 years of age. The chick attains its full height by 6 months of age. It reaches full maturity in terms of body development at the age of 3 or 4 years.  

What is the best food for the ostrich?

If you are looking to raise ostrich on a farm or a zoo, for their better health you can give them poultry food that is super rich and balanced in nutrients. It will help in the proper growth and health of the bird.

The general foods consumed by ostriches are fruits, roots, seeds, plants, insects, worms, animals, weeds, and other many easily available food in the natural habitat of the bird. 

What you will find inside the ostrich’s stomach?.

Ostriches have three compartments to store food for a short duration, in other words, ostriches have three stomachs that help in the digestion of food they eat, each serving different purposes. 

One of the most important compartments is the gizzard that helps in the grinding of food. You fill find different solid objects in the gizzard that ostrich swallow to grind the food they eat.

Some interesting facts about the ostrich.

  • Ostrich is among the rare birds that have three stomachs to digest food.
  • They don’t have teeth to chew and bite their food.
  • Ostrich is a flightless bird.
  • It is the bird’s largest bird.
  • All birds secrete urine and feces together but ostrich secretes both urine and feces separately.
  • Ostrich can run pretty fast covering more than 5 to 6 cm in a single stride.
  • They can kill a human being or other strong animals with their forward kick in a situation of threat.
  • The ostrich egg is the largest egg on the planet earth with an approximate length of 15 to 16 cm.


Ostrich is a bird of interest for all. It can amaze you for its eating habits as well its physical characteristics. These birds are popular for burying their heads in the sand in the condition of danger.

You can visit popular zoos and national parks and other wildlife areas to see them from a near distance. They generally live in open arid and semi-arid regions of savannas and Sahel.

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