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.