What Do Ostriches Eat? 7 Common Foods

What Do Ostriches Eat

Farming Base (farmingbase.com) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.

Most of the birds that we see roaming around eat grains to survive. These birds can take a flight and they prefer eating grains to survive.

Ostrich, the world’s largest bird, can neither take a flight nor eat grains as a meal to live. Being taller, flightless, and having different eating habits make ostriches unique.

Ever wondered what do ostriches eat? Though this question deserves a detailed answer here’s the hint; emus and ostriches happen to have the same preferences when it comes to food.

What Do Adult Ostriches Eat in General?

To be honest, ostriches do not mind eating anything at all. The said flightless birds are listed as omnivores, so they eat both plant matter and meat.

In general, this world’s largest bird eats all kinds of grasses, flowers, leaves, shrubs, bushes, plant roots, seeds, fruits, vegetables, stones, reiterative .ostrichesce they are omnivores, they also derive nutrients and energy from small insects, reptiles, and arthropods like mice, rats, snakes, lizards, frogs, grasshoppers, and locusts, cd moths, etc.

If ostriches are given free will to eat whatever they prefer, they would eat plant roots, seeds, locusts, lizards, and snakes.

Baby Ostriches

The baby ostriches are a whole different case, they can not eat all that adult ostriches eat to survive.

For some time, the baby ostriches eat only plant matter(grasses, flowers, and leaves mainly). As they grow older, they begin eating insects, arthropods, and small reptiles as well.

Related What Eats An Ostrich?

What Do Ostriches Eat in the Wild?

Wild ostriches live in a very unpredictable world, sometimes they have the access to all favorable plants matter, insects, arthropods, and reptiles, and sometimes they ha roam around all day in search of The wild ostriches, they eat all kinds of grasses, fresh leaves, flowers, plant roots, plant seeds, fruits, vegetables, and some like centipedes, millipedes, crustaceans, spiders, and horseshoe, etc.

The wild ostriches do not mind eating lizards and small tortoises as well.


Ostriches eat a variety of grasses, even in the wild. To be more specific, Indian grass, little bluestem, big bluestem, purple lovegrass, and prairie dropseed are the few examples of the grass that grow and get eaten by the ostriches in the wild.

Fruits and vegetables

The wild world is also not any less rewarding when it comes to fruits. It’s just that the wild ostriches do not have an overwhelming number of options.

Figs and berries are the two wild fruits that ostriches are noticed eating the most.

Figs and berries are supernaturally rich. If ostriches can not find anything in the wild, these flightless birds can survive on them.

Insects, arthropods, and small reptiles

Ostriches look for insects, arthropods, and small reptiles as frequently as they search plant matter.

Finding a favorable plant matter gets hard in winter and autumn, in these seasons the ostriches search for insects, arthropods, and small reptiles.

Grasshoppers, flies, lizards, snakes, beetles, and millipedes often become their prey.

Sand and pebbles

These wild fellas swallow sand and pebbles to grind food. The sand and pebbles are searched to keep them in the muscular part of their stomach called “gizzard”.

The ostriches and emus are the two toothless flightless birds who have to swallow pebbles and sand to grind the food.

This helps with the digestion process. If ostriches do not swallow pebbles and sand, these birds would never be able to digest food.

What Do Domestic Ostrich Eat?

Ostriches are hardly domesticated but when they get, these flightless birds live a luxurious life. They are entertained with a good shelter and a variety of highly nutritional food.

As said earlier, domestic ostriches derive energy and nutrients from a variety of ostrich-friendly foods.

The domestic ostriches sometimes do not have the access to the typical ostrich food. So, the keepers try to fulfill the nutrient requirements from various ostrich-friendly foods.

They get to eat fresh grasses(as ostriches do not dry ones), plant roots, seeds, flowers, fruits, vegetables, grains, insects, arthropods, ratite pellets, bone meal, chicken eggs, charcoal, or pebbles, etc


When it comes to grasses, ostriches can eat almost all kinds of non-poisonous grasses.

These flightless birds simply have two conditions; the grass has to be fresh and green. According to research, There are over 11,000 species of grasses, it is hard to mention all the species that ostriches eat.

Usually, Bermuda, ryegrass, alfalfa, Kentucky bluegrass, and derby are chosen to be fed. When it comes to preferences, ostriches are not picky eaters. They do not mind eating any favorable grass at all.

Plant roots and seeds

If ostriches are given a chance to choose what they want to eat, they would probably pick plant roots and seeds.

Plant roots and seeds are some of their favorite foods. However, the domestic ostriches hardly get to eat roots and seeds.

Fruits and vegetables

Most overprotective bird keepers have also added fruits and vegetables to their diet. The ostriches get to eat fruits and vegetables as a treat.

The fruits and vegetables that have been satisfying the domestic ostriches’ tastebuds are carrots, oranges, and brassicas, etc.

Ostriches need protein and calcium in great amounts. The carrots, brassicas, and oranges are fed to fulfill the protein and calcium needs.

Bone meal

The domestic ostriches eat the typical ostrich’s food once in a while. They majorly survive on a bone meal or ratite pellets.

Bone meal is a mixture of grounded bones and slaughterhouse waste products. Bone meal is enriched in several crucial vitamins and minerals.

‘It is one of the reasons why the bone meal is used to fertilize crops. Bone meal and retite pellet, being so healthy, help ostriches in living a balanced life.

Ratite pellets

To not let these birds get deficient in any vitamin or mineral, ratite pellets are another important part of their diet.

The ratite pellets are specifically made for the large flightless birds; emus and ostriches. These pellets contain all the essential nutrients ostriches need to live.

When the grasses and other plant matter are scarce, these flightless birds get to eat ratite pellets.

Chicken eggs

Wild ostriches can also eat eggs but they hardly search to eat them. It is so because they already have enough choices.

Domestic ostriches are made to eat chicken eggs because they contain a good amount of phosphorus, calcium, and potassium.

Insects and arthropods

Since ostriches are omnivores, they can survive on plant matter alone. So, whenever ostriches get an opportunity to eat insects or arthropods roaming around they do not mind availing themselves that.

Charcoal, sand, or pebbles

Charcoal serves the same way as sand or pebbles. Sand and pebbles are not hard to find, they hardly have to swallow charcoal to keep the digestion process going.

What do pet ostriches more or less eat the same foods as domestic ones? However, it’s just that they are a little more pampered.

The pet ostriches hardly eat grasses, leaves, plant roots, and even insects, arthropods, etc. They are chosen to feed something else.

Ready-made ostrich feed

These over-loved flightless birds are often kept on commercial feeds. This ready-made feed contains all the needed nutrients.

Even the ostriches do not get served with any fruit, vegetable, grasses, or grain, etc, they still do fine.

Fruits and vegetables

Like every bird and animal pet, the ostriches are also entertained with fruits and vegetables.

Since it is a common practice, so the pet ostriches eat fruits and vegetables as a treat as well. Carrots, oranges, and berries are often served to satisfy their tastebuds.

Charcoal, sand, or pebbles

Charcoal, sand, or pebbles are also managed for these flightless birds’ survival. Since charcoal is easier to find, most pet ostriches swallow charcoal to grind food. That’s all that an adult pet ostrich eats to survive.

Ostriches are taken as semi-wild birds. They are usually adopted at a very young age to tame and get them used to a “totally” different lifestyle.

The baby ostriches are entertained with the commercially prepared starter feed or plant matter; grasses, plant roots, and plant seeds, etc. Moreover, they are made to swallow stones or charcoal as well.

Related How Much Does An Ostrich Cost?

What Do Ostriches Living in the Zoo Eat?

Zoos are full of wild birds and animals, hardly a bird or animal gets special treatment. Every other day, a bird or animal dies of lack of food and carelessness.

The unfortunate ostriches that live to entertain in the zoos do not eat a variety of foods.

Ready-made ostrich feed

The ostriches that live in the zoos either eat ratite pellets or other commercially-prepared feed.

Moreover, they get to eat fruit and vegetables as a treat as well. Carrots, berries, and oranges are the few fruits ostriches eat once or twice a week.

Related Can You Ride Ostriches?

Grasses, grains, fruits, and vegetables

Some zookeepers also try to keep these large flightless birds on the typical ostrich food as well. In that cases, the ostriches get to eat, fruits, and vegetables, etc.

The ostriches can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. The ostriches in zoos usually get carrots and oranges mainly for two reasons;

  • Carrots and oranges are their favorite
  • Being a good source of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin A and K

The wild Indian, little bluestem, big bluestem, purple lovegrass, and prairie dropseed grasses can not be arranged.

The ostriches and ostrich-like birds have to derive nutrients from readily available grasses. Kentucky bluegrass, alfalfa, ryegrass, orchardgrass, and bermudagrasses are a few examples of grasses that ostriches eat.

Moreover, they get sand, pebbles, and charcoal as well to grind the food. That’s what most ostriches in the zoo eat.

Related Can Ostriches Walk Backward?

What Do Ostriches Eat that live to Entertain in the Circus?

It’s no secret that the circus birds and animals have to survive in an unfavorable environment.

The ostriches that live to entertain in the circuses derive the nutrients and energy from grains, fruits, vegetables, and bone meal or ratite pellets.

Moreover, they also eat insects, arthropods, and small reptiles occasionally.


The domestic and pet ostriches hardly eat grains but then it’s more convenient than arranging fresh grasses.

So, the circus birds have to eat a specific or mixture of grains to fulfill their needs.

Wheat, barley, oats, and sunflower seeds are the few grains that ostriches have to derive nutrients and energy from.

Wheat is a natural source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and dietary fiber, barely supplies fiber, selenium, and manganese, oats contain a noticeable amount of copper, manganese, phosphorus, and protein, and the ostriches get magnesium, protein, iron, and selenium from sunflower seeds. So, these grains are fed to fulfill the nutritional needs in the cheapest natural way.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are other important components of the circus bird’s diet. It’s a cost-effective way of supplying all necessary nutrients.

Since ostriches are known for preferring carrots, beetroots, oranges, and berries, etc. They are usually offered the same fruits and vegetables.

The fruits and vegetables do satisfy the tastebuds but they are a great source of nutrients as well. Carrots and beetroots, when eaten raw, supply a good amount of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin A and K.

Bone meal or ratite pellet

Bone meal or ratite pellet are also served as a meal. Ratite pellets are specifically made for emus and ostriches. Ratite pellets have got all the needed nutrients that even if the birds do not get anything else to eat, they can survive on a bone meal or retitle pellet alone.

Bone meal is not as nutritionally-rich as retite pellets. It is usually not preferred over ratite pellets, as the circus birds do not have a variety of options available already. So, they are chosen to feed ratite pellets.

Insects, arthropods, and small reptiles

Fortunately and unfortunately, insects, arthropods, and reptiles are everywhere. This works quite well for ostriches.

The ostriches whenever and wherever they found insects, arthropods, and small reptiles chased till their last breath to eat them.

Charcoal, sand, or pebbles

Charcoal, sand, or pebbles remain a constant in the ostrich and emus diet. These birds are toothless, they need sand, pebble, or charcoal to grind food. So, the circus birds also swallow whatever from the three options is as available.

In brief, the ostriches are categorized as omnivores. They eat both plant matter, insects, arthropods, and small reptiles. us eat?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.