Dwarf Cassowary

ANIMAL:
Dwarf Cassowary Casuarius bennetti

Type of Animal:
Ratite

Habitat:
Forests, secondary growth in mountains/hills

Location(s):
New Guinea, New Britain, Yapen

Appearance:
Smallest cassowary, black plumage, low black triangular casque, pink spots on cheeks, small red-pink skin patches on blue neck, large feet w/ sharp claws, lacks wattle, females larger than males

Food/Diet:
Fruit, flowers, fungi, snails, insects, frogs, lizards, leaves, seeds, nuts, grains, birds, rodents, fish, carrion, acorns, branches, poop

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Monitoring of habitat & hunting pressure, population monitoring

Lifestyle:
Solitary

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Solitary
 
Weight:
Male: 39 lbs
Female: 55 lbs

Gestation:
2 months 

Life Span:
19-26 years

Height:
Male: 3.25-3.5 ft
Female: 3.5-4.5 ft

Body Length:
Male: 3.25 ft
Female: 3.5 ft

Main predators of adults are dogs. Cats & pigs eat chicks/juveniles.
 
Male plays sole parental role, guarding eggs/chicks. Chicks leave dad at 8-18 months old. Clutch size ranges from 2-6.
 
Maturity reached at 2-3 years old.
 
Play crucial role in seed dispersal in native habitat due to swallowing fruit whole & spreading seeds great distances.
 
Crest/casque on head used to sort through leaf litter & sometimes as defense.
 
While stable & increasing, habitat loss & hunting pressure still loom.
 
During courtship, male dances circles around female while his throat trembles/swells & he emits low booming calls.
 
Active during the day (diurnal).
 
Very secretive in the wild.
 
Males eat/drink very little when incubating/guarding eggs.
 
Like other ratites, they’re flightless.
 
Most closely related to emus.

Fun Fact(s):
They’re great jumpers & runners, running as fast as 30 mph & as high as 5 ft off ground.
 
These birds very dangerous due to sharp claws (especially middle toes). While shy, they’re fierce when cornered & males highly protective of eggs/chicks.
 
Sometimes kept in villages for use as pets, food, & feathers.
 
Meat known to be so tough that people told to cook w/ stone in pot-“When stone is ready to eat, so is the cassowary.”
 
Able to eat toxic seeds due to rapid digestive system.
 
Also called Bennett’s Cassowary, Little Cassowary, Mountain Cassowary, & Mooruk. Bennett’s name derives from Australian naturalist George Bennett.
 
1st identified in Western science in 1857.

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