Skip to Content
Zoo News Blog

Are They Ostriches or Rheas?

Written by Memory Mays

Greater rhea

Often confused as mini ostriches or baby ostriches, greater rheas are actually a different species. Rheas and ostriches are close relatives of one another, but if you put them side by side, you may notice some pretty dramatic differences. Rheas are much smaller in size compared to the ostriches. Ostriches typically weigh over 300 pounds. The rheas however tip the scales at just over 70 pounds. These two very similar bird species are also from completely different continents! Rheas are found throughout South America, while ostriches are from Africa.

Common ostrich

They may have a lot of differences but they do have some similarities too. Despite having wings, both rheas and ostriches are unable to fly. Instead, they use their wings to help them while running. These wings are great at helping them keep their balance while running at super-fast speeds. Ostriches have been known to reach up to 45 miles per hour, whereas the greater rheas can run up to 40 miles per hour. On your next visit to the Houston Zoo, be sure to stop by our rhea and ostrich exhibits to see how many other differences and similarities you might see!