(Latin: Struthio camelus, Afrikaans: Volstruis)

At 2.5 m (8 ft.) tall, the ostrich is the world’s largest and heaviest bird. Its significant weight, up to 145 kg (320 lb.), prohibits the bird from taking flight. But the ostrich has many unique abilities that make it well-adapted to living in the savanna, desert, and open woodlands of central and southern Africa.

The ostrich is equipped with long, muscular legs built for running. Unlike other birds, who have three or four toes, ostriches have only two toes on each foot which allows for greater speed. They can sprint as fast as 70 km/h (43 mph) and hold steady speeds of 50 km/h (31 mph). One stride can span 3-5 m (10-16 ft.)! When confronted with danger, ostriches can usually outrun any animals posing a threat.

If fleeing the scene is not an option, ostriches use their powerful legs to kick. With a 10-cm (4-in.) talon on each foot, their downward kicks can cause serious harm to potential predators.

Despite popular belief, ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand when threatened. Sometimes ostriches flop on the ground with their heads outstretched in front of them. The pink/peach/grey coloring can blend in with the sandy ground making it appear like their heads are buried.