Can You Own A Pet Ostrich?

Can you have an ostrich as a pet? Yes, it’s possible to keep an ostrich as a pet. But to be honest, for most people they wouldn’t be an optimal choice. It’s not easy to care for the birds and most keepers are more interested in their eggs, meat, feathers and skin. 

Ostriches are fascinating birds: no other species is bigger, heavier or can run faster. They can grow up to 7 feet tall, weigh 350 pounds and can run no slower than 60 miles per hour in short sprints and 45 miles on average. With these numbers, they are the fastest animals on two legs. [1]

As impressive as these characteristics are, you really don’t want to have an ostrich as a pet even though it might be possible. In this article, I’m going to tell you why.

Is It Legal To Have An Ostrich As A Pet?

Yes and no. In some states like Colorado, Florida and Wyoming you can keep ostriches without restrictions. Some list them as exotic pets and you would need a special permit. Other states prohibit ownership completely.

Permits can be requested if you plan to use the birds as livestock rather than keeping pets. You would have to prove that you are able to fulfill their needs. Additionally, the safety aspect is important. Your enclosure has to be sturdy and escape-proof.

Are Ostriches Domesticated?

two ostriches

 Yes, ostriches are domesticated. There are three different species:

  • Red-necked ostrich
  • Blue-necked ostrich
  • Black-necked ostrich

The black-necked is actually a hybrid between the other two species and was bred by humans. This he is also called domestic ostrich.

However, domestication doesn’t mean that the birds necessarily have to be tame or friendly to humans. It’s more that people developed an animal by selective breeding that better met their needs. In this regard, I’m talking about characteristics of meat, eggs and feathers. No one planned to keep them as pets.

Are Ostriches Friendly?

Ostriches are quite aggressive, especially when they feel threatened. Imagine a bird that is that big and can run so fast. Nothing you want to fool around with, right?

But that’s not all. Like cassowaries, ostriches have sharp claws. Serious injuries and even fatal attacks are possible.

However, birds can be imprinted and that’s a chance to get a pet ostrich that would trust you blindly and never do harm. Imprinting is only known in birds and means that they accept the first living being they see as their mother.

How Much Space Do You Need For A Pet Ostrich?

Ostriches in outside run

Ostriches are large birds that need a lot of space. They can’t fly and like to run a lot which makes a big outdoor run inevitable. Experts at say, that you can keep a breeding pair on a third of an acre.

While this might not be much when you are thinking about getting some livestock, not many people want to use so much space in their garden for pet keeping.

Do Ostriches Make A Lot Of Work?

Definitely yes. At least you would have to clean up a lot of poop. These birds eat very much and a single loss can weigh up to one pound. It’s not much fun, as it also smells very, very bad.

You also need to make sure that fences are always intact. You have a big responsibility when you decide on ostriches and you need to keep the birds and humans safe.

Where Can I Buy A Pet Ostrich?

Typically you can buy the animals at ostrich farms. There are several in different states and I bet you find one that is somehow close to you. The lists some farms and you can dig deeper into the topic by reading the linked article.

Prices vary but you should plan to spend around 100 $ for an egg or 500 $ for a hatchling. Buying a young bird or an egg has the advantage that the possibility for imprinting on you is much higher. The downside is that the risk of dying is much higher during the first three months of the life of an ostrich.

Ostrich vs. Emu Pet

As you see, owning an ostrich comes along with many challenges. Even though these birds can be very interesting when kept as livestock, I don’t recommend getting one as a pet. 

There are many other birds like emus, turkeys or pheasants that make much better pets. Emus are nearly as tall but weigh less. Additionally, they aren’t nearly as aggressive as ostriches.

Emus can be tamed, petted and hugged. It’s also possible to train them and they can come when you call their name.