Toco Toucan

The most common type of toucan is the Toco Toucan. This is the one most likely to be found in a pet shop to be sold as a pet. Toucans are by no means common here in the United States, but if you see one, it will likely be this one. If one is to choose a pet bird, they aren’t likely to choose a toucan.

They are available as pets, though, and are wonderful little birds for the right bird owner. The bill is orange and yellow with an oblong black spot on the tip and a black base. The eyes are dark brown with a ring of skin around each eye that is very distinctly blue. Orange surrounds the blue skin around the eye. The throat and upper chest are a clean white.

The feathers on the rest of the body are black with a shiny bluish sheen in the sunlight. The under part of the tail is a deep red. The bill is the most overwhelming feature, being large and colorful. It can measure as long as 9 inches. The tongue inside is also long and is very thin and flat. The beak is thought to be warning to predators to stay away. Sort of like a giant, bright “stay away” sign. It also may serve as an aid for finding attractive mates. It is obvious that the beak helps the bird in its eating habits as the birds use it to peel their fruit or gather hard to reach food items. Though it may look heavy and cumbersome, it is almost completely hollow so it is lightweight and may not be as dreadful to lug around as it looks. The beak may look enormous, but the actual bird is not that large.

They weigh anywhere between the range of 1 to 2 pounds and are a length of about 2 feet. They are found in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. They aren’t typically forest dwelling birds, so you would normally find them handing out in semi-open areas of woodlands and savanna. They are often found at the forests edge.

They aren’t the best flyers, so it is cute to see them do a lot of hopping from branch to branch to get around. This bird is not on any endangered lists. The Toco Toucan eats fruits, insects, small animals, and eggs. They have a lifespan of about 20 years in the wild and 18 years in captivity.

They are prone to “iron storage disease” or hemochromatosis in captivity. This dieases make the toucan unhappy and can lead to feather picking and eventually death. What happens is the bird takes on too much iron in their diet when in captivity due to the high-iron foods fed to birds normally kept in captivity. In the wild, Toco Toucans eat a diet almost entirely of consisting of fruits, which are low in iron.

Their bodies are designed to be extra efficient at capturing and storing iron from food, so when too much comes into their bodies, they soak it up and store it. Too much iron is a very bad thing for these birds. Tocos are very noisy. Their vocalizations consist of deep croaking noises, rattling-sounding calls, and bill clicking or clacking noises.

They are not too loud to keep as pets, of course! They make wonderful pets and can be quite friendly. They can be hand-tamed just like other large birds and are even capable of learning tricks. They cannot, however, learn to speak human words or imitate speech like many types of parrot.

Common diseases:

• Bacterial infections

• Iron storage disease

• Intestinal parasites

• Gout