The cassowaries of the Daintree Rainforest have not changed in some 40 million years and are vital to the survival of the rainforest. They are predominantly fruit eaters consuming around 5kg per day. Although, don’t be surprised if you see one enjoying flowers, fungi, snails, insects, frogs, birds, fish and other small mammals and carrion to complement its diet.
They eat fruit from at least 26 different plant families, most of which are highly poisonous to humans. Rainforest fruits such as Black Palms, Finger Cherries, Davidson Plums, Cluster Figs, Silver Quandongs and Noah’s Walnuts are particular favourites.
The Southern Cassowary is a keystone species because they eat fallen fruit whole and distribute seeds across the rainforest floor via their droppings. Many trees rely on this method of seed dispersal to be able to reproduce. Once the fruit has passed through the bird, most of the fleshy part has been removed from the seed leaving it ready to germinate from a lovely pile of compost – or Cassowary Poo! – to you!
Have you sized up to our cassowary at the Discovery Centre?
Cassowaries are large birds, and will grow as tall as 1.80m, with the females being bigger and stronger than the males – they can even reach up to 2 metres and may weigh up to 60 kilograms. Come visit and compare your height to theirs!