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EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

(Emus, Rheas, Ostriches, Cassowary)

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Hoggle
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EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby Hoggle » Tue May 14, 2013 6:16 am

He was hand reared and was lovely...until he reached maturity. Firstly he is at a petting zoo, the public can see him and if they stuck their hands through the bars get bitten too. He firstly started becoming selective over who he wished to be aggressive to, but now it's everyone but one person who works at this place. I've got scars up my arms from him and to be honest I'm quite sick of him. Is there a way to defend yourself against an aggressive rhea? He will fluff up his feathers, boom, hiss, charge, bite and sometimes attempt to kick but rarely. There is a female in the same enclosure and she is lovely. Right now she is laying eggs and we are removing them as there is no way we want another rhea like the male!!
We've tried spooking him when he charges by banging bin lids together, which worked for a while but now he doesn't care about them. I've been told to grab them by the neck but I've done this right under his head and he still managed to twist his head and latch onto my wrist - although I pretty much hate him now I don't want to hurt him so perhaps I'm not firm enough with my grab.

I could really do with some advice as I'm now tired of him and I really hate being on their pen! I don't fancy any more scars.

We do have a section to shut him in so we can go in the pen, but I can't do it alone as he doesn't fear me and he simply charges and attacks me.
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pat
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby pat » Tue May 14, 2013 7:56 am

most male rheas are aggressive. there is not much that can be done about that.
the male rheas we had were killed. we could not tolerate their behavior. they are mean when they reach maturity.

we use to have a mix of rheas and emus. the male rhea were so nasty, I would not go in the pen. hubby use to throw a
feed sack over his head just to go in and feed everyone.

if your female is laying eggs, you could blow them out, and sell them. some people use them for crafts.

the only suggestion I have is to kill him or keep him keep him isolated. male rheas can really hurt someone.
not worth taking the chance. mine bit part of my thumb. hurt a friend of mine. (the poor guy looked like he was in a bad fight) and this was with a fence between them.

basically, I don't know of anyway to tame them, I don't think they can be. even if they are kept solo, they are still mean.
a friend of mine had one male rhea, and he was nasty. they end up killing him.

I am not one for suggesting killing an animal, but, the male rheas are an exception.

being at a petting zoo, there should be a double fence so the public cannot reach the rhea, if you decide to keep him.

It's a shame they are so mean, they are beautiful birds

hope this helped......
Pat (Sybil and Benny's Mom)

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broski1984
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby broski1984 » Tue May 14, 2013 11:00 am

Especially since he's at a petting zoo, I agree with Pat; have him killed, enjoy a nice dinner.

When any animal gets that aggressive, that's generally what I say do, but Rheas in particular are hard, if not impossible, to tame down. Get the female one an emu friend, and get rid of the male.
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby Hoggle » Tue May 14, 2013 12:17 pm

Thank you both.

He is in a section which is quieter and further away from the rest of our animals so don't get many people going to view. He doesn't seem to be bothered by the public - however I do 100% agree he should not be there.

Unfortunately it isn't my call what to do with him. He is in a paddock and we've sectioned off areas, so the sheep and donkey have the largest area and a group of goats have an area and the rheas have an area. Unfortunately the rheas are up against a fence right in front of the public, they're also at our entrance gate to enter the paddock. so for mucking out we need to get the wheel barrows through which we can't in fear of the rhea. we've been jumping the other fences to access the rest of the paddock to do feedings.

My boss who is in charge of what goes on with the animals and what we stock etc, never gets attacked by him. He fears her. He doesn't fear the rest of us though and he's really badly gotten me a few times. He's tried it with her but she grabbed his neck and he didn't manage to get her, plus we were there to help her whereas 99% of the time it's only one of us sent over there to feed etc.

I do throw things in their area rather than going in myself, however yesterday I was in the other sections of the paddock and the male rhea attacked the fence (trying to get me), got his beak stuck and made his entire mouth fill with blood from biting the fence and being stuck in it, he did figure out to lift his head out of it eventually. When I told my boss she said we need to be shutting him in every time we go in the paddock so he doesn't hurt himself...but quite frankly I rather my own safety, there's no way in hell I can get him shut in on my own without being brutally attacked.
So there's no way of even grabbing him when he does attack to stop him from biting you? Can't throw a sack on his head or do anything to stop the attacks? I'm not expecting him to stop being aggressive - just trying to think of ways to avoid his bites!
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby pat » Tue May 14, 2013 2:40 pm

it is hard for me to understand your layout there.
not sure what you mean by a padlock.

if there a way to set up where ever the rhea is in two sections, where there is just a door he can be lured into by food?
kind of like they do with tigers and bears at a zoo to clean?

I don't know why he fears the owner. but, keep in mind, that don't mean the rhea will remain that way.

definitely, do not let any of the visitors have any type of contact with that rhea. that could be a lawsuit waiting to happen.
also, their claws are razor sharp and can really cause problems if he really attacked anyone.

I know they are pretty and I am sure visitors would like to see him because of his beauty. but, it is not safe to have him in any contact with visitors or employees.

hubby use to lure the male rhea to the fence, then throw the feed bag over his head. he had to be quick about feeding.
we had a creek for them, so there was no need for water.

from all the animals I have raised, I have found the rhea to be the most dangerous and aggressive.
I trust my bears way before I did my rhea.

what color is your rhea? just curious.. the one that was really bad was the white one. we raised a grey male from a baby
and as he reached maturity, his aggresstion was beginning. but, he was killed before he got as bad as the white one was.

as broski1984 mentioned, they are some good eating. so I have heard. hubby cooked him up, but, I couldn't bring myself to eating him. it taste like very lean beef. also the oil is good stuff too. not to mention the feathers.

hope it works out for you. keep us updated.
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Hoggle
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby Hoggle » Tue May 14, 2013 4:27 pm

He is a white one ): I'm guessing my boss didn't know that the white ones are the most aggressive when she first got the eggs.
By paddock I mean they're in a fenced field, and we've divided the field up with high metal fencing that are in sections and held up in blocks of cement. They can be moved as we've re arranged the paddock before. They have an open shed like shelter which we've put one of the metal panel's in front and swing it round to close in front of the shed when we need to shut the male in. But there's no way of luring him in there unless one of us was in there and then would be trapped with him.
All our other animal enclosure's aren't big enough for the rheas as we only really have small to medium animals. So the section of the field is the only sufficient area for them and lacks any properly safe shutting in areas.

I do agree he shouldn't be near the public, if he was at the other end of the field they could still see him but not get close enough to stick their arms in the fence and get injured. He hasn't gone for the public yet though and I don't think he can fit his head through the fence, still if anyone put their hand in that would be a different story. We've all suggested moving them, at least away from the entrance where we need to access to wheel things in and out when mucking out...but to no avail.

The issue is really that because he doesn't attack my boss she doesn't understand how painful it is when he does attack! So most of us keepers have been attacked by him and nothings been done...and this has been going on for a few months now. We're all fearful of going in his enclosure.
I'd say he's only reached maturity in the past 6 months so no doubt his aggression will increase...if he can get even more aggressive than he already is!

I think the first time he got me I was hand feeding him lettuce over the fence and he was fine, then I had to go in to feed them their feed and the moment I was in he latched onto me. damn well hurt, got me three times and I've got one scar from that attack.

Killing him isn't on the agenda, so I think moving them to the far end is the best solution. With their water we have it up against the fence so can refill and empty it from the other side as long as he isn't at the fence trying to get us.
thanks for all the responses. I'll be quoting some of this to my boss to try and persuade her to move him for our own safety!
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby Hoggle » Tue May 14, 2013 4:35 pm

Just one more thing. What damage can he do at the most? I mean obviously really really hurt, bruise, scar and break skin. But can they break bones?
I need all I can to try and persuade my superiors to stop sending us in there to get beaten up by this big bird.
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby Juska » Tue May 14, 2013 6:39 pm

They can seriously injure people. I would never go near a fence with an aggressive male on the other side trying to get at me, let alone go inside a pen with one. I can't remember if it was a member on here or somewhere else; someone was viciously attacked and severely injured by either an emu or rhea.
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby pat » Wed May 15, 2013 9:23 am

hoggle,

I agree with Juska, I would never go in a pen with a male rhea either. I am not sure just how much damage they cause,
but, the one I had, bit part of my thumb (took a chuck out of it), and I was not even in the pen. I don't think they can break bones, but, I am not sure.

rheas have razor sharp claws and can cause really bad and dangerous cuts. If someone were to fall in his pen, that rhea could rip him open with his claws. ratites have a tendancy to stop on things. (emus will, but, usually small animals) mine use to try to stomp chickens, but, never got any. they finally figured out, chickens are OK and quit bothering them..
rheas never learn. they have their way of thinking and there is no changing it.

I have heard of a guy that raised emus, I think he was trying to catch them (can't remember the whole story) but, this guy end up with sever major slashes and required well over 22 stitches. I am not saying emus are aggressive, but, when spooked or cornered they could get dangerous. don't happen often with emus. but, it is the rheas that are dangerous.

honestly, the owner should not expect any of the employees to go in that pen. it is an accident waiting to happen.
a double fence (4-5 feet part) should be added for the customers. there are a lot of people out there that don't understand rheas,it just takes one person to be able to reach their finger in the fence. rheas beaks are dangerous and are strong birds.

have your boss call some zoo's up and ask them how they keep their rheas. my local zoo use to have them, but, I think they got rid of them. (haven't been there for awhile)
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broski1984
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby broski1984 » Wed May 15, 2013 10:00 am

As for the injury thing, I know one of the main officers on "Animal Cops Houston" ended up getting 30+ stitches and several surgeries after an emu tore some of the muscles in his thigh. A hoarder had three that they were trying to catch, and you could kind of tell they didn't have much experience in large birds like that; I think he was trying to hold on to its neck, and it kicked him.

In my experience though, emus are lot easier to handle than rhea; they generally won't attack unless scared/provoked. They'd rather run if they can. Rheas don't care that they're comparably little, they have attitudes and little sense of danger.
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby Juska » Wed May 15, 2013 10:24 am

I remember that one. I would imagine a well-place laceration to the thigh might have torn an artery and not just muscle.
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby pat » Wed May 15, 2013 10:43 am

I just found this:
Though flightless and not common in the U.S., these birds are extremely strong and are very ostrich-like. You will generally find them in South America. These birds can grow to be up to 60-80lbs. While nowhere near as big as an ostrich, these birds are known for their powerful legs and feet. Their legs are heavily muscled and each foot has an extremely hard spur to accompany it. It is said that if a rhea were to ever kick a human, it would be able to exert around 800 pounds of force per square inch. I’d say that’s enough to break a few bones!


gives an idea of their strength.

I just remembered, the time my male rhea was OK, was when he was sitting on a nest. that is the time I could go in the pen.

thanks for that info broski1984, didn't hear of that one, if a scared emu can do that, image what a male rhea can do.
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby Nicophorus » Sat May 18, 2013 11:18 am

Interesting, their beaks are really that strong? Emu beaks "seem" kind of flimsy and ive never had one bite down hard. I'm way more concerned by a bite from one of my parrots then a Emu. Rhea can remove flesh with their beaks??

Above it was mentioned emu/rhea in the same pen (by Pat I think). The Rhea do not get aggressive with the emu in the same pen?

I wonder if the problem with a lot of these male rhea is the "hand raising". I know with a ton of animals, if you raise it up it then has no fear of you, like take a young male goat for example: a bottle baby buckling grows up to have a VERY bad habit of head butting humans, same deal with rhea?

Do parent raised Rhea also grow up to be aggressive to humans?
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby pat » Sat May 18, 2013 8:41 pm

Above it was mentioned emu/rhea in the same pen (by Pat I think). The Rhea do not get aggressive with the emu in the same pen?
the male rheas were fine with my emus, they use to protect them :roll:

however, awhile back, a friend of mine had a couple emus and rheas in a pen, but, the pen was way too small for all of them.
the male rhea killed one of the emus and badly injured the second emu. (owner got the 2nd one in time)

with rheas, I don't think it matters how they were raised, I honestly cannot remember how old my white rheas was when I got him, but, I think he was almost a year old. the grey was younger when I got him. everyone I had talked with that had rheas had the same problem.

I don't think the emu's beak is near as powerful as a rhea's beak. I never had any problems with my emus.
emu's seem to be more intelligent and friendly than rheas.

the female rheas are not aggressive, just kind of stupid. they would peck at me, but, not real bad. it was more of a curioristy think than anything.

Do parent raised Rhea also grow up to be aggressive to humans?
I personally think so.
don't matter how they are raised. there might be some that are less aggressive than others, but, I have not seen or heard of any yet. rheas do not make good pets.

the cassories (not sure of spelling) are really bad. they are even worse than the rheas. a member here use to have one.
they are beautiful birds, but, dangerous.
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Re: EXTREMELY aggressive male Rhea. Help?

Postby jodykman » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:37 am

We have two white Rheas...one female and one male. Nether the male or female are aggressive at all. They live with 10 Shetland Sheep, 2 llamas, 4 alpacas and 2 mini ponies right now. These animals like human attention and are very friendly. The mini ponies are the dominant of the herd of all the animals and the rheas are on the bottom of the totem pole. That might be what keeps the male rhea nice and friendly, the other animals keep him in line. When the animals hear or see our truck pull up, they all run in from he pastures (including both rheas) and wait by the corral gate for us to come in and feed them their favorite foods (besides the stuff they eat in the pasture) some llama pellets, oats, etc. There is no way any of the other animals would tolerate any aggressive behavior from either of the rheas. And actually, the rheas are the most skittish. when we open up a new pasture for the animals to graze, the rheas wouldn't never venture there by themselves, they wait and follow behind the others. We also have to shooo them away from the corral gate if we have to pull in the tractor or something.....if you shoo them calmly - they will walk away; if you are more vocal and hurried - they will run away; but we don't get any aggression back from either. We haven't seen any signs of aggression from our male rhea towards us, other humans or any other animals....they have been almost perfect angels.

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