Can an Ostrich Kill a Lion?

Owing to their strong muscular legs, ostriches can exceed 96km/hour. Therefore, they are crowned as the fastest two-legged animals. Speeds aside, their legs can deliver solid kicks, typically packing more than 400Psi per strike. Though such a blow can indeed be fatal to a lion,


Currently, there are no authentic cases reported with an ostrich killing a lion.

That said, an ostrich kicking a lion to its death is still possible. 

I reckon, that this idea originated with some scientist simply trying to describe the strength of an ostrich’s strength.

And so,  

An ostrich killing a lion is more of a theoretical implication than actual evidence. 

Can An Ostrich Beat a Lion?

In theory, it certainly can.

You see, on average an ostrich weighs about 155kgs and can sprint with 90km/hour.

Meanwhile, an average lion weighs about 140 kgs and runs as fast as 75km/hour.

While these dimensions vary among genders (as shown in figure 1), it is safe to assume that:

A typical ostrich is both heavier and faster than an average lion.

So, while a lion will cover 4-feet in a single stride, an adult ostrich can cover more than 16 feet. 

If it comes to a chase, an ostrich will surely outrun a lion.

Figure 1: Comparison between ostriches, lions, and spotted hyenas in size, weight, and speed.

You see, an ostrich has quite a unique footing, with two toes on each foot developed into a hoof-like shape.

The inner toe has a 10-cm sharp talon.

Furthermore, the legs are covered with hard scales, almost as if armored.

Though the strength of an ostrich’s kick is debatable, it is mostly assumed as 400psi.


Even if an ostrich kicks with the same strength as a horse, it will probably result in a laceration.

So, an ostrich can beat up a lion.

But, perhaps a more appropriate question would be: 

Will An Ostrich Fight a Lion?

Not unless it’s breeding season, and hatchlings are involved. 

Otherwise, an ostrich will either run away or try to hide. 


Because an ostrich is still a bird that lacks hunting instincts as well as audacity to kill a lion.  

Besides, an ostrich would not eat a dead lion.

Therefore, fighting a lion is a waste of energy.

If anything, such a battle is more damaging to the ostrich’s survival.  

Mainly, because lions tend to bring in their ‘Pride’. 

Quite literally.   

So, if an ostrich spots a single lion approaching him, there are probably more around.

And so, running away is the most sensible thing to do. 

But if there are ostrich hatchlings involved, then stakes are higher.

In such a case, a male ostrich may spread its plumage and try to hit a lion with its breastplate.

But again,  

Ostriches would rather offer sacrificial eggs than fight a threatening predator.

‘Wait, What?’

Well, ostriches are polygamous birds that live within groups.

Each group consists of at least one dominant male and 3-5 females, but with one dominant hen. 

The dominant female chooses the nesting site, and she also gets to lay her eggs first. 

The secondary females lay their eggs in the same nest.

However, the dominant female puts her eggs in the center of the clutch, thereby increasing the chances of survival for her offspring. 

Occasionally, the dominant hen also rolls off some secondary eggs to distract predators

Though she raises all the surviving hatchlings as her own.

But if it comes to a fight, an ostrich may begrudgingly leave its babies in the name of survival. 

An aggressive ostrich male may leave its mate behind if it has no hope of surviving a threat. 

So, an ostrich won’t take on many fights against lions. 

But if this fight was to happen 

Who would win?

Let’s find out..

Who Would Win Ostrich vs Lion?

Most likely, a lion.

Now, an ostrich is not lacking in weapons or anything 

But the thing is, lions tend to hunt in groups. 

Odds are an ostrich will get outnumbered by lions and will eventually get killed. 

But, even if an ostrich encounters a solo lion, it may still not win. 

This may include the following factors:

 1. Judgement Ability

Among the land animals, ostriches have the biggest eyes with a 2-inch diameter each.

While these eyes allow ostriches to see from miles, however, they do take up a lot of skull space. 

Consequently, ostriches have limited brain space, allowing only a walnut-sized brain.

Compared to this, a lion brain weighs about 240 grams and is specialized for hunting.


An ostrich may lack the judgment capacity to hunt down a lion. 

So, even if a single kick to the lion’s gut may be sufficient to knock it out.

An ostrich may still try to intimidate the lion with its size and lose its chance.

2. Hunting Experience 

A lion regularly tears apart flesh and bones.

However, an ostrich only goes as far as eating lizards or rodents. 

While an ostrich will try to run, a lion will pounce.

A lion fighting an ostrich is like an assassin against a large chicken. 

3. Sturdiness

Despite having sturdy legs, an ostrich has quite a delicate neck.

Furthermore, being a bird ostrich has hollow bones. 

Meanwhile, lions are trained to attack and to endure hits.

They have hard thick skins, equipped with flesh-tearing claws. 

Which means..

A lion will not react as much to pain as an ostrich may. 

4. Stamina

Obviously, an ostrich will win in regards to speed

However, a lion has more stamina to chase than an ostrich has for running.

Therefore, if a lion puts its mind to it, it can easily catch up to the ostrich. 

Or it may tire out the bird, before eating it.

5. Turf

An ostrich uses its wings as rudders to change direction while running.

However, it needs time for such a feat.

Therefore, ostriches prefer to live in open areas.

However, lions can run in all sorts of places, from long grasses to stony crevices. And so, 

A lion is more likely to take advantage of battle turf than an ostrich. 

Considering all these factors, an ostrich winning against a lion is somewhat of a miracle.

In fact,

An ostrich is lucky to even escape a lion, unscathed.

But if you are into lions, you may be wondering about their archenemies – Hyenas! 

Can a ostrich kill a hyena?

Let’s find out..

Can An Ostrich Kill a Hyena?

Ideally, it can.

With an average weight of 60kgs and medium speeds of 65km/hour, a single hyena is not much of a threat to an ostrich (See figure 1).

While ostriches have been reported to kick hyenas to death.


In most cases, ostriches would rather shoo away a hyena than kill it.


Because hyenas live within clans of 6-130 adults that fiercely protect their own kind.

Even if an ostrich does kill a solo hyena, the dying carnivore will produce excessive noise.

Thereby, attracting all sorts of predators to the ostrich’s nesting site.

Therefore, an ostrich would try to drive away a hyena than kill it. 

An ostrich may even offer an egg or two to a hyena, instead of fighting head-on.

Hyenas are fierce predators.

They chase their prey persistently and can even crush bones up to 2.5-inches thick.

In fact, they consume so many bones and collagen, that their feces are white in color.

Normally, an ostrich’s approach varies with each scenario.

So, if: 

  1. A single hyena is around, the ostrich will drive it away from its territory. Or give up a secondary egg (not from the dominant female), as a peace offering.
  2. There are more than three hyenas, the ostrich will sprint away.
  3. If there are hatchlings involved the ostrich will spread its plumage and fend off against these hyenas. 

Despite their strength, ostriches regularly get hunted by both lions and hyenas. 

What Are The Predators Of An Ostrich?

Being the biggest bird on the planet, an ostrich is quite a formidable prey.

And so, an ostrich cannot be hunted alone or through ordinary means.

Therefore, wild cats tend to cooperate mutually to hunt down an ostrich.

For instance, a solo cheetah is not much of a threat to an ostrich.

However, a coalition of three cheetahs can easily corner and eat away an ostrich, making them the most common ostrich hunters.

The list of ostrich predators also include:

Predator Average Body Mass Pack Size Max. Speed (km/hour) Hunting Method Ostrich Survival Tactic
Cheetahs 60 kg Solitary predators, but form hunting coalition e.g., Mother and her cubs; 3-4 males. 130 km/hour Stalk the prey, use their paws to make prey fall, strike the neck. Running is useless.

So, ostriches blend in or sacrifice a mate.

Lions 140 kg 2-40 lions 80 km/hour Lionesses stealthily get near prey and tear the flesh, then eat the live prey while pressuring it under their weight. Blend in or run away.
Leopards 70 kg Solitary creatures 58 km/hour Ambush and pounce, but don’t run much after an alert prey. Flee away.

Hiding is useless.

Spotted Hyenas 55 kg 6-130 hyenas 64 km/hour Tire out the prey and then crush the bones with their jaws. Mob out hyenas or offer an egg as a distraction.
African Wild Dogs 22 kgs 15-40 dogs 70 km/hour Lack claws. Surround the prey and attack in 360º with their bare teeth. Run before they even arrive.

Final Words

An ostrich has the strength to kick a lion to either unconsciousness or death.

However, ostriches lack hunting instincts and are likely to not even fight a lion.

Therefore, lions often hunt ostriches.

The same is true for hyenas.

However, an ostrich can easily kill a hyena although they wouldn’t because hyenas hang around together and protect each other 

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