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Rheas: Rheidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Lesser Rhea (pterocnemia Pennata): Species AccountGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, RHEAS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS

LESSER RHEA (Pterocnemia pennata): SPECIES ACCOUNT

Rheas are distributed in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.


Rheas live almost exclusively on grassland although two subspecies of the lesser rhea also inhabit desert areas.


Rheas are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and meat. Their diet consists mainly of grass, leaves, herbs, fruit, and seeds, as well as lizards, insects, and small animals.

Rheas are hunted in the wild by humans for their meat, skin, and feathers. They are raised commercially on farms in the United States and Canada for their meat. They are considered agricultural pests by farmers because they will eat almost any crop.

The greater rhea and lesser rhea are listed by the IUCN as Near Threatened, meaning they are in danger of becoming threatened. Their populations are declining throughout their range, because much of their habitat is shrinking due to conversion to farmland. The Puna rhea, a subspecies of the lesser rhea, has a total population in the wild of only several hundred.

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Animal Life ResourceBirds