• IUCN Status
    Near Threatened
  • Population
  • Diet
  • Group
  • Size
    1.4 metres tall
  • Continent
    North/South America
  • Lifespan
    15 years in the wild
  • Weight
    up to 25 kgs
  • Habitat
    Grassland, semi-arid scrubland
  • Scientific Name
    Rhea americana

Meet the Greater Rhea


The greater rhea is the largest bird on the American continent. It is part of the 'ratite' family, a group of birds which ostrich, emu, kiwi and cassowary are also a part of. They are a flightless bird, with strong powerful legs, allowing them to run up to 35mph.

Rheas are omnivorous, preferring broad-leafed plants and clover. However, they eat a variety of seeds, roots, fruits, insects and small vertebrates, such as lizards, frogs, small birds and snakes.



the Greater Rheas at Wolds Wildlife Park

Did you know?

Read on for more interesting facts about these large flightless birds.

What sort of parents do greater rheas make?up arrow

Male rheas build large nests on the ground. They mate with more than one female. All the females lay their eggs in one nest. Sometimes a nest can hold as many as 50 eggs!  

The males sit on the eggs and take care of the babies after they hatch. They won’t let any animals come near – not even the females. The male rhea takes care of the babies for up to 6 months and even adopts other baby rheas that have become lost.

In the wild what sort of habitat does the greater rhea live in?down arrow

The Greater Rhea has the largest range of all the different types of rhea by far, covering an estimated area of 3.25 million square miles.

They live east of the Andes Mountains and mostly south of the Amazon River basin. The range of the Greater Rhea includes much of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, the eastern part of Bolivia and the northern part of Argentina.

These birds live mainly in low-lying grasslands and savannas up to elevations of 3,900 feet, and prefer to stay near water.

What are a greater rhea's strengths?down arrow

The greater rhea is the largest of all South American birds and is related to ostriches and emus. These flightless birds use their long, powerful legs to outrun trouble. Although their large wings are useless for flight, they are used for balance and for changing direction as the bird runs.

How fast can a greater rhea run?down arrow

They are very fast runners and are able to reach speeds up to 64 km/h (40 mph).

Can greater rheas swimdown arrow

Yes, they are excellent swimmers