I've always wanted ostriches. I mean just LOOK AT THEM. They're huge. They're amazing. They're definitely dinosaurs. And who doesn't want a pet dinosaur?
Look at their feet! Definitely dinosaurs....
Sexy Sexy Sniper's foot. The only bird with two toes- and check out those nails!
Getting pet dinosaurs
I really wanted to raise ostriches. Actually for years, before I finally found two chicks. To make it even more awesome, it turns out that the man that I bought them from only lived two hours from me- he just never advertised. Usually, these chicks were destined for a specific ranch where they would be slaughtered for their meat and feathers when they're old enough, so I guess there wasn't a whole lot to advertise! He was happy to sell me two of the chicks, though and I was happy to take them home when they were just two tiny little stripe balls of fluff.
Raising ostrich chicks is hard work
Ostrich chicks really like to eat everything. You have to be really careful with them or else they get impacted. A lot or ranchers like to keep them in a concrete room just to stop them from swallowing the bedding they're on. I used a small x-pen style panels to create an area outside and then took cement pavers normally used to make paths and covered the bottom of it. And then at three months and if like magic, the chicks suddenly stopped trying to eat the world. This was awesome, because then I was able to move them into a much larger area.
I had been told by many people that raising ostrich chicks is very difficult, but if you can get them past three months you'll be good. But it was still a very odd thing to experience. It was as if a switch just flipped in their brain telling them that it was a good idea NOT to die.
More about ostriches or ostriches in the house?!
Interested in learning more about how I cared for the ostrich chicks as they grew? Check out the video below for a Q&A about the chicks.
Mormor's crooked neck.
As the chicks began to grow, I noticed that one of them appeared to have a deformed neck. At first, I didn't notice the difference, but it became very apparent the larger the birds got. I had the neck x-rayed and you can see that it is a deformity of the actual spine. I really hope he continues to be healthy despite his disability. Looking back at photos, I can see the crick just very barely in the first photo I took of him at home, which leads me to believe this is a genetic deformity cause by developing incorrectly inside the egg.
These birds are big. I mean really big. They grow about a foot a month. You can just about see the growth on a weekly basis. At about a year old Sniper is over 7 feet tall.
- Ostriches are the world's largest bird.
- Ostriches have THREE stomachs.
- Ostriches have THREE sets of eyelids
- Ostriches are the ONLY bird with two toes.
- Ostriches can't fly, but they can run 45 MPH.
- Ostriches are the fastest animal on two legs.
- Ostriches have the largest eyes of any land animal.
- Ostriches are huge: between 200-300 pounds and around 8-9 feet tall.
- Ostriches don't have teeth, they have to swallow rocks to grind their food.
- Ostriches live in groups led by a dominate male.
- Ostriches are omnivores and will eat just about anything.
- Ostriches are from Africa, but originally were found in the Middle-East, too.
Mormor & Sexy Sexy Sniper
The ostrich with the crooked neck I named Mormor. It just seemed to suit him well. It's pronounced as you would read it, "Moremore!" :)
The other I call, Sexy Sexy Sniper.
In December 2013...
I filmed the chicks being introduced to a toy 'weasel ball'. The birds (especially the Emu) paraded around the pasture unsure what to make of the strange rolling object. The resulting video went viral almost immediately and was featured on news and blogs around the world.
Sexy Sexy Sniper - It's a boy!
At around 11 months old, Sniper began exhibiting characteristic traits of a male ostrich and his feathers became very slightly (not noticeably darker). I am nearly positive that he is a male. He also became very territorial. Male ostriches can be dangerous to humans because of this. I wouldn't call his behavior aggression, but simply that he is trying to protect what he considers his area. I also think he is protecting his Emu friends, Fig & Kabul. Many people have asked if I would be re-homing him now that I found out that he's a male. The answer is a definite no.
I find him fascinating to watch and although there may come a time where I can no longer interact with him hands on, I'm okay with that. As long as he's happy and healthy, that's what makes me the happiest. If the situation arises where I feel like I cannot keep him safely and he is in danger of hurting me or himself- I will certainly re-home him. I would never keep an animal that I felt like I couldn't handle and have no problem admitting so. I want what is best for Sniper. At this time, I feel the situation is perfectly fine and aside from losing Mormor (see below) Sniper has a lot of terrority to protect and seems fit and pleased to do so. He is definitely a very proud and brave bird and I love him for it.
Sniper's territorial display at around 11 months of age.
It's interesting to note that Sniper never really had the slightest interest in humans at all, despite me raising both Mormor and Sniper together as chicks. If you watch my videos you'll notice Mormor is always the one cuddling up near me- Sniper never took an interest. Their personalities were so drastically different I wonder now if Mormor was a girl and that accounts for their differences.
Me & Mormor, when she was just a chick.
February 2014... The passing of Mormor...
It's with great sadness to tell you that Mormor has passed on. His crooked neck had only worsen as he grew and by 9 months old his spine could no longer take the sprain and his neck broke. I was beyond devastated. Rest in peace, you beautiful bird.
I am currently looking for a friend for Sniper, as I don't believe any species that is social with it's own kind in the wild should ever be left alone. At this time, I may separate him from Fig & Kabul, who will get their own enclosure and allow Sniper some privacy with his new friend.
Visit to an ostrich ranch
If you love ostriches, you may want to watch the below video. I visited one of the largest ostrich farms in the country. It wasn't the first time I had been there, but it had been years since my last visit. I saw a lot of ostriches! I spent much of my time there just sitting back and watching them, but I did bring my video camera so that you could get up close encounter with them. This farm is located in Picacho, Arizona off if I-10.