AK: Ostriches taking winter in their stride

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The Sassi farm ostriches, with owner and keeper Innar Rohtsalu.. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The cold weather has not flustered ostriches farmed in Estonia, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Friday night, though the time of year is pretty quiet for the flightless birds, the report said.

Innar Rohtsalu, the ostriches' keeper, at the Sassi farm, just east of Tallinn, told AK that the big birds, despite originating from savanna regions of the continent of Africa, are not perturbed by current sub-zero temperatures.

Rohtsalu said: "Even at -15C we still let them walk around outside, but below that, we have to take them indoors."

The Sassi ostriches are around 20 years old; the animals can have a life expectancy up to 80, AK reported.

Rohtsalu also dispelled a long-held myth about the creatures burying their heads in the sand when disturbed.

"This originated in a fairy tale at some point and now everyone believes this is the case," Rohtsalu said, adding that it is not.

Rohtsalu also said that thinking of ostriches as a bird is also misleading, in the sense that they are more like game animals, roaming wild in their home lands or farmed like domesticated animals elsewhere.

January is the off-season, he added, meaning that the animals do not lay eggs (the largest of any extant land animals – ed.) at this time, though will start to when the days start getting longer.

"The real laying period is actually in the summer, but soon we will already start to see them lay eggs. They have to be fed very well for a month [prior to this], and now they are having some down-time. We are still trying to get some eggs for the holiday (i.e. Easter – ed.)," he added.

Ostriches can lay up to 50 eggs through the summer, AK reported.

The full AK segment (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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