You might have heard of dangerous species of animals but here is one super dangerous flightless bird, cassowaries.
The birds in question, however, were not parrots or canaries... Cassowaries, including alligators and wild cats, are classified as Class II wildlife in Florida because of the danger they pose.
So, what is a cassowary, exactly? These huge, flightless birds with bristly feathers, like their cousins the emus, are ratites. They're found in tropical forests in Southeast Asia and Australia. Cassowaries can grow up to 2 m (6 ft 6 in) tall and weigh up to 60 kg (132 lb), which is the equivalent of six mute swans, the heaviest birds native to the UK.
Cassowaries have a distinctive appearance, with a bright blue face, two red wattles (flaps of skin) hanging from their necks, and a hollow "helmet" atop their heads known as a casque.
Lower down is the anatomy that makes them so dangerous. Three claw-tipped toes end the muscular legs that can deliver a strong blow. The claw on the inner toe is especially strong, measuring up to 12 cm (5 in) in length! If a cassowary feels threatened, it will jump to its feet and strike with these dagger-like arms, possibly killing internal organs and causing serious bleeding.
Cassowaries are well-equipped to kill, but they don't go looking for trouble. Quite the opposite: like most species, these birds prefer to avoid confrontation, only fighting over "flight" as a last resort if their lives – or the lives of their young – are in danger.
Should you meet one cassowary, please let not its beauty deceive you for they are dangerous.
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