Ostrich is a distinctive bird that brings a sense of wonder and curiosity to anyone who sees or hears anything about this flightless bird.
They have many unique traits like they can not fly but have wings. Can we expect something different when it comes to the ostrich’s teeth?
These massive, egg-bearing birds have unique eating behavior and the anatomy of their mouth. With ostrich, everything is grand, amazing, and distinctive.
The list of oddities and curiosities is longer for this flightless bird. One other thing that many ostrich admirers want to know is about the teeth of this bird.
Do ostriches for teeth? Likely, most birds do not have teeth, however, when it comes to ostrich, we all expect a different answer.
Ostrich does not have similar characteristics to other birds, so, whether they have teeth or not is a topic of interest for many avid bird lovers. Read on to know about do ostriches have teeth? If not, how do they eat food without this special feature?
Do Ostriches Have Teeth?
Like most birds, ostriches do not have teeth to chew and bite their food. For birds and some other animals, it is nowhere near as important as for humans to have teeth.
They can easily digest food without any assistance from their teeth.
Ostriches have some other physical features and a unique digestive system that performs a similar function as teeth.
Ostriches have blunt ridges and a strong beak to grab and swallow food.
The swallowed food makes its way to the second stomach where it is chewed and ultimately digested.
An Ostrich eats small plants, seeds, roots, leaves, insects, and small organisms like reptiles, spiders, ants, and flies.
Even though they do not have teeth, still, the ostrich can easily grab food with absolute ease. Their mouth is designed to tear and pick food without the teeth.
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What Do Ostrich Have Instead of Teeth?
Ostriches do not have teeth, to make up for the absence of such an important physical feature, wide beaks are present in place of teeth.
Beak or bill is a physical trait that ostriches share with their avian ancestors and birds. Their beak is sturdy, long, wide, and has grayish-pink coloration.
The flat and broad beak with a rounded tip is mainly made up of calcium. The bony part of the beak is primarily constituted with the existence of calcium and another hard substance called Keratin. Ostrich has predators so beak helps to defend against them.
Ostrich uses their beaks to find food or tear roots of small plants, and pluck leaves from the trees.
Most people assume that the bird’s beak is insensitive to pain because of the presence of Keratin. This is just a myth or a misconception, the beak of an ostrich is prone to injury and feeling pain.
Ostrich beaks have a large number of blood vessels and other sensitive cells, and tissues. In case of an injury, it can cause a great deal of pain to the bird.
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How Do Ostrich Chew Food Without Teeth?
Most of the chewing happens in the ostrich’s stomach. Ostriches have multiple stomachs with an abnormally long intestine requiring 36 hours to digest food.
Ostrich uses their beaks to cut food into smaller pieces before eating it, due to the absence of teeth, food paves its way to the stomach without being chewed.
One of the stomachs is called Gizzard where food is ground to a fine consistency. The bird eats small stones and pebbles to help with digestion.
They are always looking for a hard object to swallow, at any time, there could be 1 to 5 kgs of stones and pebbles in the ostrich gizzard.
The gizzard uses grit to grind food into small, digestible food particles. Once the food is chopped, the rest of the digestion process is carried out.
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Humans chew food with teeth whereas most birds use gizzard to grind food particles.
The digestive system and eating behavior are different for human beings, birds, and animals.
An organ that is extremely important for humans may be completely useless for birds. Teeth are not of much use to ostriches as they chew food differently with grit.
Ostriches lack teeth but their beaks make up for it by breaking and finding food underground.
It is a multifunctional evolutionary trait that performs multiple tasks.
Ostrich can go a week or two without drinking water, relying completely on the metabolic water obtained while digesting food.
Ostriches are the heaviest birds with some strangest physical and behavioral oddities characterizing them. These large birds do not possess teeth to grab, bite, and chew food.