How Fast Can Ostriches Run? Comprehensive Guide

Hammad Tariq

· 13 min read
How Fast Can Ostriches Run

Ostriches, the largest and heaviest birds in the world are renowned for their remarkable speed and agility. Found mainly in Africa, these flightless birds have evolved into speedy runners, making them one of the most fascinating creatures in the animal kingdom. The question of how fast ostriches can run often piques curiosity due to their impressive capabilities.

Ostriches' incredible speed is not only a survival mechanism but also a testament to their unique physiology and environmental adaptation. Understanding the speed at which ostriches can run sheds light on their evolutionary history and their place in the diverse ecosystems they inhabit.

Is an Ostrich the fastest-running bird?

Yes, the ostrich is indeed the fastest-running bird on land. Renowned for its remarkable speed, the ostrich can sprint at incredible velocities, outpacing most other animals in its habitat. With powerful legs and a streamlined body, ostriches can reach up to 70 kilometers per hour (43 miles per hour) over short distances.

This extraordinary speed allows them to escape from predators and cover vast distances in search of food and water across the African savannas where they dwell.

While the ostrich is the fastest-running bird, it's important to note that it is not the swiftest animal overall. Some land mammals, such as cheetahs, can reach higher speeds over short distances.

However, in the avian world, the ostrich reigns supreme for its impressive running capabilities. Its long legs and muscular thighs enable it to take massive strides, covering significant ground with each step, making it a marvel of adaptation and evolution in the animal kingdom.

How do Ostriches run so fast?

Ostriches, the giant flightless birds, exhibit a fascinating combination of anatomical features and adaptations contributing to their extraordinary running capabilities.

Powerful Legs and Muscles:

The ostrich's legs are a marvel of strength and muscle development. Their thigh muscles, particularly the powerful quadriceps, are well-adapted for explosive bursts of energy. This robust musculature provides the force necessary for rapid acceleration and the maintenance of high speeds.

Long Stride:

The long legs of ostriches are a critical factor in their ability to cover substantial distances with each stride. This long stride lengthens their effective running range, enabling them to move efficiently and effectively across their natural habitats.

Two-Toed Foot Structure:

Ostriches have a distinctive two-toed foot structure, with only two large toes on each foot. This design minimizes drag, allowing for smoother and more streamlined movement. The reduced resistance enhances their speed and efficiency during rapid locomotion.

Balancing Tail:

The ostrich's long, muscular tail is crucial in maintaining balance during rapid running. Acting as a counterbalance, the tail helps stabilize the bird, preventing it from toppling over or losing control at high speeds. This balancing act is essential for the ostrich's agility and coordination during sprints.

Aerodynamic Body:

Ostriches boast a streamlined and aerodynamic body shape, minimizing air resistance as they move. One of the critical components in reaching and maintaining high speeds is this elegant design. Because there is less air resistance, the bird will have less difficulty moving.

These characteristics work together to produce a biomechanical miracle that enables ostriches to go at up to 70 km/h (43 mph). The remarkable amalgamation of formidable morphology and specialized adaptations underscores the evolutionary triumph of these distinct avians in their ever-changing surroundings.

Why do ostriches run fast?

Ostriches have evolved to be exceptional runners, and their incredible speed serves various survival purposes in their natural habitats. Primarily, ostriches rely on their impressive running abilities as a defense mechanism against predators. When threatened, ostriches choose to escape rather than confront danger. Their remarkable speed allows them to outrun many potential predators, such as lions and hyenas.

Furthermore, the decision to run at high speeds aligns with the ostrich's overall strategy for survival. These flightless birds have adapted to open landscapes, where they can spot potential threats from a distance. If they sense danger, their instinct is to run swiftly across the plains, utilizing their powerful legs and rapid acceleration to create a considerable distance between them and any pursuing predators.

Moreover, ostriches are not only adept at running but also possess keen eyesight, which complements their running strategy. Their large eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads, providing a wide field of view and enhancing their ability to detect threats early on.

How long can an ostrich run for?

Ostriches are renowned for their remarkable running abilities, but the duration of their sprints is relatively short-lived. Typically, an ostrich can sustain its high-speed running for about 10 to 15 minutes. During this time, they can cover significant distances, reaching up to 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour).

While 10 to 15 minutes might not seem extensive, it's important to note that ostriches are designed for short bursts of speed rather than prolonged endurance. This sprinting strategy aligns with their survival instincts in the wild. Ostriches rely on their speed to evade predators, and the short duration of their sprints is usually sufficient to create a safe distance from potential threats.

The ability to sustain such impressive speeds for a brief period is facilitated by their well-developed and powerful leg muscles, unique two-toed foot structure, balancing tail, and aerodynamic body design. Ostriches are very efficient and successful runners in their natural environments because of these physiological adaptations and their strategic energy utilization.

Ostriches are not very fast runners, but their quick bursts are essential to their survival because they let them outrun and outrun predators in the wide-open spaces they live in.

How far can an ostrich run in a day?

Ostriches can cover considerable distances during their daily activities, but their running behavior is more focused on short bursts of speed rather than sustained long-distance travel. In a day, an ostrich may roam and forage across a vast territory, covering up to 30 miles (48 kilometers) or more. However, it's important to note that this distance is not solely achieved through continuous running.

Ostriches use walking, trotting, and occasional high-speed running to navigate their surroundings. While they can reach impressive speeds of up to 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour) during short sprints, these bursts are usually reserved for evading predators or threats.

Their daily movement patterns are influenced by factors such as the availability of food and water and the need to establish territories or locate mates.

Ostriches are adapted to thrive in the diverse ecosystems they inhabit, which can range from savannas and grasslands to deserts. Their locomotion strategy, characterized by intermittent sprints and extensive walking, helps them efficiently explore and cover the expanses of their natural habitats.

Can all Ostriches run fast?

Yes, all ostriches are equipped with the ability to run fast. Running is a crucial survival mechanism for ostriches, allowing them to escape from predators and potential threats in their native habitats. Ostriches belong to the family of flightless birds known as Ratites, and their powerful legs are adapted for rapid running rather than flight.

The capability to run at high speeds is a shared characteristic among all ostrich species. Adult ostriches, both males and females, can reach up to 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour) during short sprints. This remarkable speed makes them one of the fastest-running birds and land animals globally, showcasing their evolutionary adaptation for survival in open landscapes.

The ability to run fast is not limited to a specific ostrich species; it is a fundamental trait in the ostrich population. Whether in the African savannas or other habitats, the capacity for swift running is a universal feature that aids ostriches in evading potential threats and thriving in their diverse environments.

What do you do if an ostrich chases you?

Encountering an ostrich, especially one that seems aggressive and starts chasing you, can be an intimidating experience. While ostriches are known for their speed and agility, understanding how to respond can help minimize the risk. Here are some critical steps to take if an ostrich begins to chase you:

Stay Calm:

Remaining composed is paramount. Sudden movements or loud noises could escalate the situation, so maintaining a calm demeanor is critical.

Do Not Run:

Ostriches have predatory solid instincts, and fleeing may trigger them to give chase. Standing your ground is often a better strategy than attempting to outrun them.

Raise Your Arms:

Elevating your arms in a non-threatening manner can make you appear more prominent. Ostriches may interpret this as a sign of dominance, potentially deterring them.

Back Away Slowly:

Retreating slowly while maintaining eye contact is advisable. Avoid turning your back, as this might provoke the ostrich to pursue you further.

Create Distance:

Your objective should be to increase the distance between yourself and the ostrich. Move away gradually without making sudden or aggressive movements.

Seek Shelter:

If available, seek refuge behind a nearby structure or object. This can serve as a barrier, offering an added layer of protection.

Stay on Higher Ground:

Ostriches are less inclined to chase uphill. If the terrain permits, move to higher ground to discourage continued pursuit.

Use a Barrier:

Employing a jacket, backpack, or any available item as a barrier between you and the ostrich can be beneficial. This may divert the bird's attention or deter it from advancing.

Can Ostriches Kill Humans?

While ostriches are not inherently aggressive towards humans, they have powerful legs and sharp claws that can pose a threat if the birds feel threatened or provoked. Ostriches are known for their strong territorial instincts and may exhibit defensive behaviors, especially during breeding season.

The most significant danger lies in their ability to run at high speeds, reaching up to 45 miles per hour. If an ostrich perceives a human as a threat, it may charge them. While their primary intent might be to intimidate, a collision with an ostrich can cause severe injuries due to their size and strength.

Instances of ostriches causing harm or fatalities are relatively rare, and most interactions can be managed safely by following proper precautions. Understanding ostrich behavior, respecting their space, and avoiding actions that might be interpreted as threatening is essential for preventing potential risks associated with these giant birds.

Overall, while ostriches have the physical capability to cause harm, they are not inherently aggressive toward humans and are more likely to exhibit defensive behaviors when they feel cornered or provoked.


In summary, ostriches are renowned for their impressive running capabilities, reaching up to 45 miles per hour. Their speed is attributed to powerful legs, a streamlined body, and unique adaptations. While ostriches are generally not aggressive, encounters should be approached with caution.

If an ostrich chases, staying calm, avoiding running, and using non-threatening gestures are key. In the rare event of aggression, creating distance, seeking shelter, and understanding defensive measures become crucial. It is essential for peaceful coexistence to respect these magnificent birds and their territory, reducing the possibility of injury to ostriches and humans.

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About Hammad Tariq

Hammad Tariq, the passionate founder and author of HappiestBeaks, is a dedicated bird enthusiast, caretaker, and lover. With a deep-seated affection for avian companions, he channels his expertise into crafting insightful and informative blogs on bird care and behavior.