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You are watching: What animal lays the largest egg

Think how much easier an Easter egg hunt would be if you were using the biggest eggs in the world.


Ostrich eggs in the Kalahari Desert, Namibia

It’s not surprising that ostriches lay the largest eggs in the world; they are the tallest and heaviest birds on the planet. We saw this abandoned ostrich nest photographed above while we were staying at the Kalahari Anib Loge in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia. Multiple females will lay their fertilized eggs in the same communal nest!

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Ostrich eggs are so thick and strong that a human can stand on top of them without breaking them, as demonstrated below by our guide at the Kalahari Anib Lodge. But if you come across an ostrich nest during your African safari, do not even get close to it. The parents might be near and we can tell you, they will protect their eggs with ferocious love.

The San people that lived in the Kalahari used ostrich eggs shells for jewelry, and also used the whole shell to carry water. Not sure how much you could carry in the largest egg in the world, but I’d assume these would be life-savers in such an arid environment.


Guide standing on ostrich eggs in an abandoned ostrich nest. Kalahari Desert, Namibia.

The other huge flightless birds also lay very large eggs (the Cassowaries, the Emu, & the Rheas). The Kiwis, another member of the Ratite family, are much smaller but also lay a huge egg. They have the largest egg-size to body-size ratio of any bird. About 20% of the mother’s weight! So ostriches actually have it pretty easy at a mere 2% of the mother’s weight.

What was the biggest egg in the world ever? Nope, it wasn’t a dinosaur. It was another bird that went extinct not all that long ago. The Elephant Bird looked like an even larger version of the ostrich (11 feet tall) and lived in Madagascar. It laid an egg that was a foot long and eight inches wide. Bigger than your head! The largest complete Elephant Bird egg was just sold at auction recently for over $100,000.


An ostrich family walking down the road in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

Interested in learning more about Southern African birds eggs and nests? The Roberts Guide to the Nests and Eggs of Southern African Birds is a great resource.

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Do you want to see ostriches in the wild? Check out our post on how to travel to the Central Kalahari.