Do Ostriches Spit? Spit Or Myth

Ostriches, the largest living species of bird, have captivated human curiosity with their towering height and impressive speed. These flightless creatures possess various unique traits that set them apart from their avian counterparts. But do ostriches spit?

In this article, we will delve into the truth behind ostrich spitting, exploring whether it is a myth or another fascinating truth in the world of magnificent birds.

Do Ostriches Spit?

Ostriches do sometimes spit for various reasons. First, they can be mean and spit, hiss, and show their wings while expressing their anger. Second, they spit out the rocks occasionally, which they have swallowed before, to break up their food in their gizzard.

Ostriches are omnivores, feeding on plants, seeds, insects, and occasionally on small reptiles. But they don’t have teeth to grind this food, like most birds.

So, they swallow their food whole and then swallow pebbles and rocks so that they can act as a mortar and pestle to grind the swallowed food. These rocks and food travel through throats and get into some action in their gizzards.

First, the food is crushed in the gizzard by these rocks and later travels to other parts of the body, like the stomach, for further digestion. The swallowed rocks can stay in the gizzards for days until they are worn out and no longer help in the grinding.

As these giant birds can’t digest these rocks, they will spit them out when they become soft and useless.

Related Read: Do Emus Spit?

  • As Ostriches are larger than other birds, their gizzards are also bigger, so they can contain more rocks of a bigger size. An adult ostrich can easily contain 2-3 lbs of stones in its gizzard.

So, when you see an ostrich spitting out hard substances, it can be emptying its Grizzard. But they may also spit at you to show their dominance if they assume you as an invader in their personal space. This spit can be a mixture of saliva and partially digested food. 

Some people may assume that a bird spitting on its owner is its way of showing emotion, but it’s not the case with ostriches. Remember that these are not ordinary birds. These are not affectionate and don’t mind attacking you if they feel threatened or surprised.

male ostrich chasing female ostrich
Image Credits: Canva

Do Ostriches Spit When They Attack?

Like an angry goose, an ostrich can spit on you if it doesn’t like you. But ostriches don’t spit on people often. Instead, it will kick or knock you down with its bony breastplate and then trample you if you try to get too close to one.

Ostriches have long, powerful legs, flexible knees, and two-toed feet, which help them outpacing predators and maintain the same speed over long distances. With their power, they can deliver powerful kicks in self-defense.

Generally, when in the wild, ostriches don’t like to interact with humans, so they can get aggressive if you try to go closer. So, avoid doing that, as it can be dangerous, particularly when they have babies.

Even in captivity, ostriches exhibit similar traits and can attack you out of their protective instincts or when stressed. They are territorial creatures, so they don’t mind attacking if they feel the need to defend themselves or their territory.

Also Read: How Do Eagles Sleep?

Do Ostriches Have Saliva?

Like many other birds, ostriches have salivary glands in the back of their throat. They help lubricate the throat while swallowing their food whole and while spitting it again. This process is known as regurgitation.

As birds don’t have teeth, they cannot consume food the way we do. So, they swallow their food whole and rely on other methods to break down food in the gizzard.

What Are The Birds That Use Their Spit For Defense?

Birds like European Roller, Turkey Vultures, and Northern Fulmars spit to defend themselves against predators. Vultures may also spit to empty their stomachs in order to keep their body light while flying.

Final Words:

Most of us have already known that the ostriches aren’t the friendliest animals in the world. So, they do things like spitting or attacking when they feel threatened. Still, that shouldn’t let you stop from learning more about them.

But always remember to respect other creatures and their boundaries.


See you in the nest one!!

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