Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

Greater Rhea

Appearance

The greater rhea is the largest bird in South America measuring up to 1.5m (4.9ft). They weigh 20-27kg (44.1-59.5lbs). The female rhea is generally smaller than the male.

The rhea has grey feathers on its back. At the base of the neck is a ring of black feathers. They have long legs and a lengthy neck.

Diet

The greater rhea is an omnivore which opportunistically eats a large range of foods. The majority of their diet consists of broad leafed foliage. For plant material they also eat fruits and seeds.

For meat they hunt for lizards, insects, birds,

Due to the rough plant matter which they regularly ingest the rhea ingests pebbles which assist in grinding down the food in their stomach.

Range

The greater rhea hails from South America. They can be found in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and through Bolivia.

Habitat

More common in savannah areas the rhea prefers a habitat with some tall vegetation. They do not regularly venture into tropical rainforests though. They prefer a lower elevation with it being a rare occasion that they venture above 1,200 metres.

greater rhea

Scientific Name

Rhea americana

Conservation Status

Near Threatened

Height

20cm (8in)

Weight

20-27kg (44.1-59.5lbs)

Lifespan

10 years

Diet

Omnivore

Reproduction

At the beginning of the breeding seasons the females separate into small groups.

The males will mark a territory that they defend in fights. This may involve fighting, kicking and intertwining necks.

The greater rhea has a deep resounding call mostly used by males in the breeding season.

The male will scrape out a nest in the ground which he lines with dry vegetation.

The females move around breeding with the males and laying their eggs in his nest. Many females may visit one nest. One nest usually has about 20 to 30 eggs in it. They have been found with up to 80 eggs though.

The egg is a golden colour which fades to white over time.

The male incubates the eggs for 29-43 days. The females do not assist in rearing the young.

All the eggs in a nest hatch within 36 hours of each other.

At the 14th month of age the greater rhea becomes sexually mature.

Behavior

The greater rhea is part of the ratite family. As such these birds are not able to fly. Their wings are instead used for balance when they are running.

The cougar and the jaguar are the only natural predators of the adult greater rhea. The caracara preys on hatchlings and feral dogs go after young birds. Armadillos will sometimes eat rhea eggs.

Quick facts

In its native habitat the rhea is called a ñandú. This name comes from its call.

In some parts of the world they are farmed for their meat, skin and oil.

greater rhea
Red-panda-toronto

Toronto Zoo’s Red Panda Cub Needs a Name 

edinburgh zoo chimpanzees

Edinburgh Zoo Chimpanzee Learns the Ropes in Adorable Images 

maryland zoo rhino

Maryland Zoo Rhino Prepares for His Big Move 

We're Social. Follow Us

We share awesome animal photos daily

Featured Animal

little penguin
Koala

Join Our Mailing List to Get Daily Animal Profiles & Animal News Delivered to Your Mailbox.

Share via
Copy link