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Can an Ostrich Kill a Lion? Attack Methods, Kick Strength

Lion vs ostrich? Can an ostrich kill a lion? In this post, you’ll learn 2 ways an ostrich defends itself. And the power in an ostrich kick force. Ostriches have more power than you might think.

An ostrich can indeed kill a lion. Ostriches have extremely powerful legs that are each equipped with a deadly claw. A kick from one of these will easily hurt or kill a lion. Ostriches protect themselves in this way from other predators such as hyenas, crocodiles, and cheetahs too.

can an ostrich kill a lion

Sound unbelievable? Well, it’s actually true! Read on to learn more about these two fascinating animals and just how powerful they can be.

How Do Ostriches Attack? 2 Methods

Ostriches attack in two ways: slash and ram.

  1. Slash: The most serious attack method is with their foot. They inflict a slash or cut injury on the limbs or lower abdomen of the predator. The kicking motion is forward and down. Their toenail is sharp and is from 4-6″ in length (10-15 cm).
  2. Ram and Jump: This is more common and might be surprising. They will ram the person with their bony breastplate. This ram attack will knock the person over, and then it jumps on top of them. As you might imagine, an angry adult ostrich standing on your chest will cause some injury, namely contusions and broken ribs. An adult ostrich can weigh as much as 320 lb (145 kg).

Source: US National Library of Health, National Institutes of Health.

How Hard Can Ostriches Kick?

Ostriches can kick with a force of about 2,000 pounds per square inch (141 kg per square cm).

Compare that to a study of 70 elite-level boxers – who could punch an average of 776 psi of force. That means ostriches can inflict almost 3 times the force of an advanced boxer. And that force is concentrated on the tip of their 4″, sharp toenail.

Note: While this statistic (ostrich kicking force) is shared freely online, I can’t find the original source. If you have the source, please share it below.

Can An Ostrich Kill a Lion?

Yes, an ostrich has enough power in its leg to kill a lion.

But the situation changes if there are more than one predator.

ostrich kick force

Ostrich as Prey

Ostriches are the largest birds in the world. And they are extremely fast runners.

The ostrich can sprint at least 43 miles per hour and can distance run at 31 miles per hour.

Their huge wings actually help ostriches keep their balance and can even act as rudders to help them change directions on short notice.

While ostriches do not hunt, they can kill an attacker with a kick of their powerful legs. Lions are no exception to this.

Male lions can weigh 330-570 lb and females 270-400 lb. Your average male ostrich could weigh as much as 300 pounds.

As far as the ostrich’s predators are concerned, there are actually not as many as some may think. Thanks to their powerful legs and fast running abilities, ostriches definitely know how to fend for themselves.

They are well equipped to defend themselves. A strong kick from one of their clawed feet is a deterrent to any predator.

Often predators need to join together in the hunt – two lions or three cheetahs.

The cheetah is one of the ostrich’s primary predators. As you may have guessed, this is largely due to the cheetah’s ability to keep up with an ostrich’s powerful stride.

Thanks to the cheetah’s incredible speed, it can sometimes take an ostrich down. Even still, they often need more than one cheetah to successfully hunt an ostrich.

A few of the ostrich’s other natural predators (besides the lion) include crocodiles and hyenas.

ostrich kills lion

Lions as Ostrich Hunters

Now, let’s meet the African lion. While they may sound pretty ferocious, lions are actually social and family-oriented in their own communities.

Males can grow to be as large as 480 pounds and females are usually half that size at 280 pounds.

Most male lions eat an average of 15.5 pounds of meat every day (7 kg)! Females will eat a little less, around 10 lb (4.5 kilograms). That’s a lot of meat. Because lions have such large appetites, they aren’t exactly picky about their diet.

Lions will eat almost anything you can think of.

Their diet usually includes wildebeest, crocodiles, zebras, antelopes, buffaloes, young rhinos, hippos, warthogs, giraffes, and even young elephants.

Sometimes, lions will even hunt ostriches. But it can be dangerous, especially because of that leg kick with a sharp talon.

Lions are not fast runners at a running speed of 50 miles an hour, especially in comparison to the cheetah who can run up to 76 mph.

This can sometimes make it difficult for them to hunt, especially if their prey is faster than they are.

For this reason, lions are both sneaky hunters and scavengers. As long as a lion can stay out of sight long enough for it to get close enough to pounce, it should be able to take down almost any animal.

Hyenas are one of the lion’s most prominent opponents. This is primarily because hyenas also hunt in packs and compete with lions for food most of the time.

Cheetahs pose a similar problem to lions. They often will compete with lions for prey and dominance on the field, so to speak.

Cheetahs vs Ostriches

Although smaller, cheetahs are faster and hunt in groups.

In this video, see three cheetahs hunt an adult female ostrich.

lion vs ostrich

Learn more about the 13 fastest animals in Africa.

Your Turn

Have a question about ostriches’ self-defense skills? Or maybe have a reference about if an ostrich can kill a lion? Join me in the comments!


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