Do Ostriches Live In The Desert?

Being flightless birds, ostriches cannot inhabit higher altitude regions and thus reside on the land. They are well adapted to survive on the ground. Since ostriches are land birds, you may wonder whether the ostrich is a desert bird or do ostriches live in the deserts!

Ostriches live in the deserts and other habitats of Africa which include savannas, open woodlands, and semi-arid plains. These birds are suited to dry arid scenarios, such as deserts, rather than the flourishing forested tropical regions.

These heaviest and tallest birds need large and open areas where they could run freely when they sense any danger. The threats to ostriches in the deserts are far less than in the tropicals. Therefore, deserts are a well-suited habitat for ostriches.

The deserts allow these birds to sense the threat from far away which is not possible in thick and dense forested regions. These birds are thus found foraging for food and roaming in the deserts of Africa. 

How do ostriches survive in the desert? 

Ostriches survive in the harsh environment of the deserts because of the various adaptations that the bird has developed. The behavioral modifications acquired by ostriches allow them to survive. Here’s a list of adaptations that ensure the survival of ostriches in deserts.

  • The large and flat feet help ostriches to walk on the sandy land of deserts easily. Their toes help them to run at high speeds while the heel gives the bird an extra push. 
  • The body of the ostrich has numerous exposed pores and skin, such as their head and legs, which help them to survive in the hot climate and dry conditions of deserts.
  • The thick plumage acts as an insulating coat that helps the ostrich to survive in extreme cold nights of deserts. The layer of soft feathers provides warm insulation in chill weather conditions. 
  • Ostriches have thick eyelashes and eyelids that guard their eyes against intense sandstorms which are extremely common in deserts. 
  • The ostriches fluff their wings to make themselves appear more daunting and dominating. This adaptation helps ostriches to keep the predators away, thus, making them suitable for survival in deserts.
  • Ostriches can survive without water for long hours as they extract most of the water from the food they eat. This adaptation solves the problem of water scarcity in deserts for ostriches.
  • To reduce water loss, ostriches can send back the concentrated urine to the body from the bladder. Unlike other birds, ostriches store the urine separately in the urinary bladder.

What can ostriches eat in the desert?

Ostriches are omnivore birds that generally eat plant leaves, seeds, grasses, roots, rodents, snakes, insects, lizards, frogs, and anything available to them in the desert.

These largest birds require food in large amounts to maintain their health and body. Adapted to the desert areas of Africa, ostriches majorly eat succulent plants, grasses, and roots. 

These birds have a great digestion system that helps them to eat and digest a wide range of food. The intestines of ostriches allow them to eat things that usually cannot be digested by other animals.

Ostriches are often seen grazing different kinds of grasses with other grazing animals like giraffes and zebras. Ostriches also consume stones and pebbles to help them grind their food in gizzards. 

Related Read: Do Ostriches Eat Stones, Pebbles, And Rocks?

Can Ostriches withstand sand storms?

Ostriches can withstand sandstorms because of the special adaptation they have acquired. These birds have thick eyelids and eyelashes that protect their eyes from sandstorms. This adaptation helps ostriches to guard their vision.

Ostriches are inhabited to deserts where they encounter sand and dust storms very often. Therefore, to survive in such habitats, they have developed some adaptations that help them to withstand such situations.

Which is the best landscape for ostriches?

The best landscape for ostriches is the low-vegetation area such as grasslands and deserts as it provides the best scenarios for the ostrich to survive. 

These landscapes turn out to be the best for the ostrich as their body build, characteristics, epidermis, and behavior are best suited for such places. The birds find their type of food in abundance in such landscapes. 

These birds cannot withstand the high vegetated areas due to the higher risk of predators and fewer chances of survival. The desert and grasslands allow the birds to detect the predators from distinct and escape.

Related Read: Do Ostriches Live In Zoos?

Which species of ostriches can live in the desert?

There are only two living species of the ostrich, the Somali ostrich, and the common ostrich. Both of the living species can live in deserts and are thus found in the semi-arid deserts of Africa.

Scientifically named Struthio camelus, the common ostrich occupies north and south of the Sahara desert of Africa, East Africa, savannas, Sahel, deserts of southwest Africa. 

Known as the blue-necked ostrich, the Somali ostrich is found in the grasslands, semi-desert, and thorn scrubs of Africa. They are native to the horn of Africa. These ostriches prefer a little more vegetated areas than common ostriches. Therefore, they are not found in true deserts.

Do ostriches live in the Sahara Desert?

Ostriches live in the Sahara Desert as they are native to Africa and prefer dry arid regions. Thus, the Sahara deserts form great habitat for them. The common ostrich is found in the Sahara deserts to a great extent. 

The North African ostrich is found in the harsh environment of the Sahara desert. These birds were once found in the entire area of the Sahara but now are only limited to a specific region. 

Can ostriches live in the Alaska desert?

Ostriches can live in the harsh and extremely cold climate of the Alaska desert due to their advanced immune systems and adaptations that help them to survive in low temperatures. 

Ostriches are farmed in various parts of the world including the Alaska Desert which gives evidence about their ability to survive in such cool climatic conditions as well. The Alaska deserts are less vegetated and provide the right conditions for the ostrich to live.

Do ostriches need any shelter in the desert?

Adult ostriches living in the deserts do not need shelter as they are habituated to the open and large areas. However, young ostriches need shelter to get protected from the scorching sun and sandstorms. 

The adult ostrich provides shelter to the young by spreading its wings. The wings of an adult ostrich are six feet wide and thus work as a great shelter for the young ostriches.  

Ostriches living in captivity are given a shelter and an open area both to reside. In the wild, shelters aren’t much necessary for these birds.


Ostriches are unique birds that fascinate many people around the world. They are the desert birds that are found in various parts of Africa. Their adaptations help them to survive in extremely harsh environments like Sahara and even Alaska. The ostrich is among the endangered birds, thus we must ensure their living.

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