Can You Own A Pet Cassowary?

Do cassowaries make good pets? No, definitely not. The wild birds are native to northern Australia and Papa New Guinea and are considered the world’s most dangerous birds. But what is really true about all the myths? Are they really that dangerous? Read on to learn more about what it would be like to keep a cassowary as a pet.

Portrait of a cassowary

I know, cassowaries are beautiful birds. It can be tempting to own such an exotic pet, especially for bird lovers. However, for most people, this species wouldn’t be the right choice.

Is It Legal To Own A Pet Cassowary?

In general, birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the USA. Even though this is not true for cassowaries because they are not native, you could run into regulatory issues easily.

These large birds aren’t considered dangerous without a reason. So you would need a special permit if you want to own one. All the requirements must be met. These include a proper enclosure for the pet birds as well as a safe setup.

As laws can vary widely between different states and even counties or cities, you should contact your local department of agriculture.

Are Cassowaries Domesticated?

Actually, the old Australian tribes raised and bred cassowaries as working birds and to harvest their eggs.

However, that was long ago and you can’t compare this to the long period of domesticating chickens and other poultry.

Even if our ancestors managed to raise birds that were somewhat tame, today’s cassowaries can’t be considered domesticated.

You would still deal with a wild bird and its instincts.

Are Cassowaries Dangerous?

Head of a cassowary

Yes, all wild animals can be considered dangerous in one way or another. Cassowaries are not known to be especially aggressive towards humans. But attacks can happen and they can also be fatal.

Cassowaries have 4-inch-long claws which they use to protect themselves. And that’s how most accidents happen. People aren’t aware of the sheer strength and even less of the wild instincts that can kick in quickly.

Attacks are most likely the result of human misbehavior and happen when people try to feed or pet one of these gigantic birds.

Cassowaries Are Large Birds

After ostriches, cassowaries are the second largest bird on earth. They can weigh up to over 100 lbs and become 7 feet tall. Additionally, they can run about 31 miles per hour.

Even though they are flightless birds like penguins, you can imagine what this means for the enclosure you would need.

There is nothing sadder than pets that are kept in too small runs. I bet even your whole backyard couldn’t satisfy the need for movement of a cassowary. But at least you wouldn’t have to care about getting a whole flock as these birds are mostly solitaire.

The Problem With Vet Care

It’s the same as with every very exotic and potentially dangerous pet: Veterinary care is always hard to find.

You can’t just visit the local vet. Because of the size of the bird alone, you would need someone who is willing to visit the bird at your place. Additionally, the person needs to have at least some experience with birds of this size.

A Cassowary Will Rule Your Life

Pet cassowary in enclosure

Yes, it’s really true. People who are thinking about getting such an exotic pet often forget what this would mean for their lives.

You would need to clean up the enclosure daily and birds of this size make a mess you can’t imagine. Plan in some hours every day and don’t forget that the lifespan in captivity can reach up to 50 years.

Say good buy to travel and even weekend trips if you can’t find somebody who is willing to take care of your bird. And I bet this would be a hard task.

The Diet Of A Pet Cassowary

At least the diet of cassowaries is easy to manage. They like to eat mostly fruit. Only when their favorite food is scarce they start to feed on different insects, amphibians, small mammals and even scavenge as vultures.

Caring For A Cassowary Is Not Rewarding

Don’t expect to get anything back from a cassowary. Due to their nature, they don’t like to be petted or interact with their owner.

You would do all the work for a bird who is not interested at all in what you do, except it has something to do with food.


Depending on what you actually expect from a pet bird, turkeys or even pheasants could be a great alternative to a cassowary. If you are interested in these species, I suggest reading the linked articles to learn what it would be like to keep one as a pet.

Turkeys are very affectionate and social birds. Most owners report that it’s very rewarding to care for this species. While pheasants don’t like to interact with their owners that much, they are still beautiful gaming birds.