What Do Ostriches Eat in the Wild? (Everything Listed)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Ostriches are originally wild animals who have been domesticated by humans. In captivity, ostriches are fed a number of foods.

It is however interesting to discover what these birds eat out there in the wild.

Ostriches are naturally plant eaters. Their main source of food are plants from which they derive moisture.

They can also eat insects, lizards and even small tortoises. These are a few of the things ostriches often eat and enjoy. 

This article will discuss ostrich eating habits, what their favorite food is, what fruit and vegetables they eat, whether they eat grass to mention a few. 

What Do Ostriches Eat In The Wild?

What Do Ostriches Eat in the Wild


The majority of the ostrich diet is from different sorts of plants such as grasses, wild leaves and shrubs, roots and seeds.

They feed on quite a large range of fauna. Ostriches do not have teeth so they cannot chew. 

When they are eating, they swallow the food whole and their strong digestive system does the work of breaking down the food.

The ostriches also derive moisture from these plants.

Fruits and Berries

Fruits and berries found on tropical trees are also another source of food especially during the wet periods. The weather in the arid areas can be extreme and during the dry spells, fruits might not be available. 


Ostriches also feed on insects such as flies and other species plentiful in the African savannah.


Frogs are also a source of food for ostriches. Although the large birds do not regularly meat, they can be seen doing that from time to time.

Ostriches do not have teeth to chew meat. They swallow their food whole while their gizzard breaks down the food. 

They also swallow rocks or pebbles. This helps them to digest food by grinding food in their digestive systems.  


Ostriches also eat dead meat. They love to eat kills made by other animals and do not often make kills themselves.

Here is an article I wrote on how do ostriches care for their young ones

What Are Ostriches’ Favorite Food?

Ostriches typically love to eat plants in the wild.

These plants include seeds, roots, grasses, shrubs and low foliage on trees. Ostriches almost often forage on patches of green plants in the arid environment they inhabit.

Ostrich feed on green annual grasses and forbs when available. 

When these were not available they consumed leaves, flowers, and fruits from succulents and woody plants.

Due to their high mobility and selectivity ostriches are able to obtain adequate and high quality forage in arid environments.

Ostriches do not often eat dead or woody material and they are known to shun it. The natural forage provides the ostriches with about 70% water content.

The water content enables the large birds to go on for days without having to drink water. 

This is quite important for the environment in which they live.

During the hot summer months in the savanna, it can be really difficult to get water to drink.

The animals have over time adapted different ways to survive the harsh weather.  

What Fruit Does An Ostrich Eat?

In the wild, 15% of an ostrich diet often consists of fruits and berries.

Because ostriches are native to the savanna and semi-arid areas of Africa, they often eat fruits found in such areas.

Some of the fruits you can find in a savanna area include:

  • Abal
  • Acacia
  • Baobab
  • Beech
  • Common guarri
  • Monkey orange
  • Wild melon
  • Raisin bush

These fruits and some not listed here are some of the tree products found in the savanna areas.

During the wet season, the fruits get plenteous and the ostriches can have them as snacks with the grasses.

However, as the wet season goes, the abundance of the fruits declines and the birds have to focus on other sources of food to eat.

In captivity however, ostriches are fed a number of fruits including carrots, oranges, bananas and watermelons. 

Also check out this article I wrote on how do ostriches communicate?

What Vegetables Do Ostriches Eat?

In the wild, ostriches often eat grass and plant materials which usually include a number of vegetables.

However, most of their feeding is on available grass which can provide them with moisture to survive in the dry environment.

Broccoli, carrots, cabbages, and beets are just a few of their favorite veggies in captivity.

They must, however, be served to the ostriches sliced up, since they will try to eat them whole otherwise.

They have no teeth and are easily choked.

Do Ostriches Eat Grass?

Grasses are a common food source for ostriches in their native habitat.

They will graze extensive grassy plains and savannas on a regular basis, eating a variety of tall grasses, reeds, bushes, and other nutrient-rich plants.

The choice of the ostriches’ food is highly dependent on their digestive system.

The ostrich has a particularly complex digestive system as a result of its unique food. A long, strong intestine runs the length of this digestive system, stretching 46 feet. 

There are grit-rocks and other materials in the stomach that allow food to be broken down and enter the small intestine.

To ensure that they can break down what they’ve eaten, the ostrich will need to eat stones or rocks.

Water can be obtained by an ostrich from the plants it consumes. An ostrich requires 1 to 2 liters of water each day.

However, because of the complicated system that comes with being so enormous and their organs and tissues’ ability to absorb water, they may go for several days without drinking.

Their digestive systems have been designed to squeeze water out of the plants and grasses they eat.

Do Ostriches Eat Their Eggs?

Contrary to the myth that goes rund, ostriches do not eat their own eggs.

During the breeding season between April and September, the ostriches mate and the females start laying eggs.

Ostrich males will mate with several females in its harem and they will all lay their eggs.

The hens often have a ranking order with one dominant female. The dominant female lays her eggs first and gets the best spot for keeping her eggs.

Her eggs are more protected and the other eggs are more vulnerable to predator attacks.

Ostriches are fiercely protective of their eggs and both the male and the female of the species sit on their eggs for incubation purposes.

Ostrich eggs are the largest in the world, the size of the eggs can however be affected by the weather conditions.

Ostriches do not reproduce well in extremely hot or cold weather.

The eggs can either be smaller in size or less. The quality of the males’ sperm is also affected.

However, once they are laid ostrich eggs will be cared for by the parents. 


Ostriches are basically plant eaters and their food ranges from grasses to low shrubs, fauna and tree plants.

Their diet also consists of fruits and berries found in the wild. They also sometimes feed on insects, frogs and dead carrion left by other animals.

Ostriches live in the semi-arid regions of Africa and have learnt to get moisture from the plants they consume.

As such ostriches can go for close to 3 days without drinking water. They also eat vegetables. In captivity, ostriches love to eat carrots, cabbages, cucumbers and other fruits. 

Contrary to the myth, ostriches do not eat their eggs. They protect their eggs and keep them safe from predators.

Ostriches are great parents and both the males and females usually incubate the eggs.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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