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Ostriches stick their heads in the sand to hide when they're frightened. Animal fact or fiction?

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Fact
Fiction

Nope, sorry! Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. If they are frightened, the first thing they do is run. Ostriches can run up to about 43 miles (70 km) per hour. They use their wings for balance and as rudders to help them change direction when running (as well as for courtship display). If they are cornered and not able to run, they can deliver a kick powerful enough to kill a full-grown male lion and bend 10 mm steel rods into right angles. Additionally, two of the wing fingers in their small wings end in spurs that they use slash at attackers.

If the ostrich is in a position where it cannot run or otherwise defend itself, it will try to hide from predators, by laying its head and neck flat on the ground. In the rippling heat haze of its native Africa, the ostrich can look just like nondescript grassy mounds. This method of hiding even works for males because they put their wings and tails down low to the ground. Young ostriches and adults hatching eggs in their nests will typically try this.

It is believed that the myth of an ostrich sticking its head in the sand to hide originated with the writings of the great Roman thinker, Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD). His real name was Gaius Plinius Secundus. In his Natural History books (one of the earliest comprehensive encyclopedias containing 37 volumes) in Book 10, Chapter 1, he wrote, "...they imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of their body is concealed". Ostriches swallow sand, small stones and pebbles to help them digest their food. This may have been the behavior the ancient Roman thinker was observing when he wrote this, because the coloring of the ostrich's head and neck blend in with the sandy ground of the dry, sandy regions of Africa, where it lives. This would make the head very hard to see, especially from a distance.

Someone "hiding their head in the sand, like an ostrich" is said to be foolishly ignoring their problem, while hoping it will magically vanish. This popular saying has been around for many years. But, it originated from a myth. Click here to learn more about ostriches.

[ More Animal Fact or Fiction ]

You're right! Good job! Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. If they are frightened, the first thing they do is run. Ostriches can run up to about 43 miles (70 km) per hour. They use their wings for balance as rudders to help them change direction when running (as well as for courtship display). If they are cornered and not able to run, they can deliver a kick powerful enough to kill a full-grown male lion and bend 10 mm steel rods into right angles. Additionally, two of the wing fingers in their small wings end in spurs that they use slash at attackers.

If the ostrich is in a position where it cannot run or otherwise defend itself, it will try to hide from predators, by laying its head and neck flat on the ground. In the rippling heat haze of its native Africa, the ostrich can look just like nondescript grassy mounds. This method of hiding even works for males because they put their wings and tails down low to the ground. Young ostriches and adults hatching eggs in their nests will typically try this.

It is believed that the myth of an ostrich sticking its head in the sand to hide originated with the writings of the great Roman thinker, Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD). His real name was Gaius Plinius Secundus. In his Natural History books (one of the earliest comprehensive encyclopedias containing 37 volumes) in Book 10, Chapter 1, he wrote, "...they imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of their body is concealed". Ostriches swallow sand, small stones and pebbles to help them digest their food. This may have been the behavior the ancient Roman thinker was observing when he wrote this, because the coloring of the ostrich's head and neck blend in with the sandy ground of the dry, sandy regions of Africa, where it lives. This would make the head very hard to see, especially from a distance.

Someone "hiding their head in the sand, like an ostrich" is said to be foolishly ignoring their problem, while hoping it will magically vanish. This popular saying has been around for many years. But, it originated from a myth. Click here to learn more about ostriches.

[ More Animal Fact or Fiction ]