Toucans as Pets


One day Dave walked into a pet shop looking for doves when the shop owner offered him a toucan. He'd never imagined owning a toucan before, but could not resist and that's where the infatuation started.

A complicated diet

As stunning and exotic as these magnificent birds are, they are insanely difficult - near impossible - to keep in captivity. This is due to their very fragile nature. Unlike parrots, toucans survive on a diet of 70% fresh (non-citrus) fruit made up mostly of papaya and melons.

Most all captive toucans die from hemochromatosis which is an iron storage disease. To avoid high levels of iron in their system, they need to be on a pellet diet of less than 100 parts per million. They also need to be given distilled water, as most other waters (bottled, well or otherwise) contain iron - even trace amounts.

Space requirements

Toucans also require a large amount of space otherwise they can be known to thrash and break tail feathers. We've kept our toucan in at least a 5 foot by 8 foot aviary whether indoors or outdoors, and when able, attach two aviaries together for even more space. The only time our toucan is in anything smaller is when being transported from indoor to outdoor in a transport cage.

We get all of our outdoor aviary enclosures from Cages by Design and use the same cages for our parrots as we do our toucans. Either 6 foot diameter or 5x8 suncatcher aviaries.

Bathing

It's best to offer toucans a heavy, wide and shallow bowl to bathe in. Since toucans tend to drink their bath water, I also use distilled water for their bath bowls. Since I am sure this is starting to sound both inconvenient and expensive, I installed this water filter on my kitchen sink.

The bowls you use will need to be heavy enough not to tip over when your toucan perches on the side of it, or jumps into it. It will also need to be wide enough for the entire beak of your toucan to be able to drink from.

Noise level

Not all species of toucans make the same noises. Some toucans growl, purr, click and make a very high-pitched noise/call (that was actually used in the background noise of the TV show series "Lost"). Swainson toucans make this high pitched noise, and it sounds like this:

Training toucans

Some interesting behaviors you can train toucans to do, that they perform naturally, are things like hopping and vertical flying.

Like parrots and other animals, they can be clicker trained and target trained. They have very fast metabolisms and can work off of small foods they don't see very often such as blueberries.

Is a toucan right for you?

We don't recommend people have toucans as pets. If you love the idea of having a toucan and can't be persuaded otherwise, please research aracaris and toucanets. They are a smaller, more social and manageable version with a much bigger community of knowledge and help available to the public.

Not to mention, the larger toucans (such as a toco toucan) currently costs around $20,000. Below are more resources, including Emerald Forest Birds whom breeds and sells toucans, toucanets, and aracaris among many other types of birds and are the leaders in their care and needs.

More resources on toucans: