Do Ostriches Really Bury Their Head in the Sand When They Get Scared?


There’s a tale as old as time that whenever an ostrich gets scared, they bury their head in the sand. It’s probably one of the more widely known bits of animal trivia out there, so it only stands to reason that it’d be absolutely correct, right? Well, it turns out that that’s not the case at all. Somehow that also makes everything right in the world because you’d expect the biggest and heaviest flightless bird on the planet to do something more impactful than just shove its tiny head into the ground whenever danger approaches. Then again, since there’s only two living species of ostrich remaining (one native to sub-Saharan Africa and one native to the Horn of Africa), the idea of them not having the best defensive strategies doesn’t seem that weird.


A video of an ostrich running in the Dubai desert..The video was posted on Instagram by the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan.#desert #burjkhalifa #animal #bird #fazza♥🇦🇪 #arabian #dubai #dubai🇦🇪 #dubailife #mallu #keralaite #pravasi #njanmalayali

♬ original sound – The Gulf Focus

So what do ostriches do when they get scared then? Well, their first response will simply be to run away. They can reach a top speed of 70 km/h and are the fastest birds on land, so it’s only logical that they’d use this natural advantage to get out of harm’s way quickly. Running away isn’t always going to be an option, though, and that’s when a scared ostrich will attempt to blend in with the terrain by dropping itself to the ground and remaining very still. I’m not sure how “big ball of feathers” would blend in with any terrain at all, but since they’re still doing it today, it must’ve worked at least a few times in the past. Think of it as one of those “60% of the time, it works every time” types of things.


The ostrich is invincible on the African grassland.Want to touch the little ostrich? Prairie wolf, are you asking to be kicked by me? #ostrich #prairiewolf #babyostrich #wildanimals #wildlife #animalslife

♬ Fighter (Instrumental) – ROKKA

So now we’ve solved half of this mystery, but it is a fact that ostriches do stick their heads in the sand. They just don’t do it as a response to fear or terror. Well, there’s also a very logical and cute reason for that. If you ever see an ostrich burying its head in the sand, what you’re actually looking at is the bird using its beak to turn the eggs in its nest. Ostriches have shallow holes where they lay their eggs, so from a distance, that would indeed look like an ostrich was shoving its head into the sand. And if you never run into an ostrich, at least you’ve now got an extra trivia fact under your belt for the next family meet-up.