Northern/Single-Wattled Cassowary

ANIMAL:
Northern/Single-Wattled Cassowary Casuarius unappendiculatus

Type of Animal:
Ratite

Habitat:
Low-elevation forest, jungle, swamp forest, river floodplains, wetlands

Location(s):
N New Guinea, Yapen, Batanta, Salawati, Waigeo

Appearance:
Large stocky flightless bird, orange/yellow/bright red neck, single wattle, black plumage, blue facial skin, gray-black casque/helmet on head, large feet w/ sharp claws, females larger than males

Food/Diet:
Fruit, berries, insects, snails, lizards, frogs, snakes, poop, flowers, fungi, palm seeds, mice, rats, carrion, birds, fish

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Population monitoring, monitoring of habitat & hunting pressure

Lifestyle:
Solitary

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Solitary
 
Weight:
Male: 66-82 lbs
Female: 128 lbs

Gestation:
2 months

Life Span:
25-50 years

Height:
Male: 4.9-5.2 ft
Female: 5.9 ft

Body Length:
Male: 4.9 ft
Female: 5.3 ft

Main predators of adults are canids & crocodiles. Pigs, cats, pythons, & quolls eat chicks/juveniles.
 
Male plays sole parental role, guarding eggs/chicks. Chicks leave dad at 9-18 months old. Clutch size ranges from 2-6 eggs.
 
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 undergrowth/litter & sometimes as defense.
 
While stable & increasing, threats include habitat loss/fragmentation, deforestation, hunting for meat/feathers/bones/eggs, road collisions, taking chicks from wild to be raised for meat, killing out of fear, dog predation, & retaliatory killings (they sometimes kill dogs in defense).
 
Active during the day (diurnal).
 
Very shy/secretive in wild.
 
Males eat/drink very little when incubating/guarding eggs.
 
Like other cassowaries, they’re most closely related to emus.
 
Like other ratites, they’re flightless.
 
Also called one-wattled cassowary & golden-necked cassowary.
 
Very low frequency calls often unheard by humans.

Fun Fact(s):
1st identified in Western science in 1860.
 
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."
 
One of most dangerous birds in world due to sharp claws (especially middle toes). While shy, they’re fierce when cornered & highly temperamental. Males highly protective of eggs/chicks.
 
They’re great jumpers & runners, running as fast as 30 mph & as high as 5 ft off ground.

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