What Do Cassowaries Eat?

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Updated: November 19, 2021
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What Do Cassowaries Eat
Cassowaries are frugivores that receive the majority of their nutrition from fruits! In addition they’ll eat insects, eggs, and other opportunistic foods


Cassowaries are one of the most interesting looking animals on earth. They have a crest on their head made out of the same material as rhino horns, feet with dagger-like nails that look like dinosaur feet, and a unique bright blue head. Given their appearance, its easy to see why cassowaries are known as the “most dangerous birds on Earth.” Are these birds really a threat or harmless herbivores? Let’s dive into what cassowaries eat!

How Do Cassowaries Find Food?

What Do Cassowaries Eat - Cassowary Eating
Bon appetit, cassowary!

Cassowaries are large, flightless birds that bear a resemblance to ostriches, but their habitat couldn’t be much different. While other large birds like ostriches and emus inhabit savannas, shrub lands, and desert-like landscapes, cassowaries live in dense rainforests.

With cassowaries living in rainforests, their diet is tailored to their local surroundings. With fruit plentiful, cassowaries simply pick up fallen fruit and nuts from the ground of the forrest.

What do Cassowaries Eat?

What do cassowary eat - cassowary with fruit bowl
A young cassowary with a fruit bowl

Susan Flashman/Shutterstock.com

Cassowaries eat a diverse diet, but perhaps 90% of their diet comes from fruits. They prefer larger fruits with nutritious coverings. The species is incredibly important to the rainforests of New Guinea and Northern Australia because they spread the seeds of so many fruits and plants. The government of Queensland notes that 238 different plant species have been observed in the cassowaries’ diet!

The diet of cassowaries consists of foods that include:

  • A wide variety of fruit
  • Quandong trees
  • Acorns
  • Palm seeds
  • Snails
  • Insects
  • Carrion
  • Bird eggs

While cassowaries will eat smaller invertebrates and have even been observed feeding on roadkills and small birds and mammals, it’s important to note that they’re an extremely fruit-dependent species.

A study found that the diet of cassowaries is closer to fruit bats than other birds!

Be Carful Around Cassowaries!

Cassowaries are an imposing looking bird. Females reach the height of humans and their feet have razor sharp claws. If you encounter a cassowary, remember that they’re largely herbivores and would rather avoid contact with humans. So while cassowaries are often called nature’s “most dangerous bird,” if you see one in real life your best move to is simply slowly back away and never approach one.

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AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

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