Toucans are animals that for years have lived with the human race, becoming one of the tropical animals most loved by humans. However, it seems that human activity itself is killing them.
Here you will find the most complete information about the toucan that exists. We will talk about their characteristics, behavior, types of toucans, care and breeding, and many other curiosities. Welcome!
Types of toucans
Crimson Rumped Toucanet
What is known about toucans?
Toucans are better known as ranfástids (or Ramphastidae), although they are also known in some parts as diotedé or diostedé. It has six different genera in which a total of 42 species of toucans differ.
Where does the toucan live
They are widely distributed in the American continent, from Mexico to Argentina. The normal habitat of the toucan is in low altitude tropical rainforests, although some species live in more temperate environments, such as mountain ranges or altitudes that can reach up to 3,000 meters above sea level.
Some of the species are in danger of extinction due to human activity, so having a toucan at home can be somewhat complicated.
Now we are going to delve into the most important characteristics of toucans. Stay tuned if you want to know all the curiosities about these incredible and colorful birds.
What is the toucan like?
In addition to being a large, slow-moving, long-lived bird, two things especially distinguish the toucan from other birds: the first is its colorful and striking feathers, and then its large beak. They can measure up to 65 centimeters, although some species only reach 25 – 30 centimeters. Its beak is approximately 20 centimeters long. Its weight ranges from 130 to 680 grams.
They have a long tongue, which can reach up to 14 centimeters, narrow and pointed. The wings are small in size, with a square tail that easily moves up and down. His eyes are surrounded by brightly colored skin. They are one of the birds with the most developed sense of sight. Their legs are short and strong, allowing them to walk without problems despite the weight of the large beak and with which they can hold and move around the branches.
They do not present sexual dimorphism, so it is difficult to differentiate between male and female. Although, according to experts, females have a slightly smaller and straighter bill than the male.
How long can a toucan live?
Although there are different species, they all seem to share the same life expectancy: 20 years, although there are some specimens that have exceeded it almost none reach 30 years.
However, even though their diet is not complicated at all when they live in captivity, they do not usually exceed 18 years of life because they suffer from hemochromatosis due to a diet strong in iron instead of the fruits they need to live.
How is the behavior of a toucan?
Not many human beings choose to have a toucan at home, despite their great fame. It is a sedentary bird that lives in a single area for most of its life (few are those that migrate in search of another place), which makes it adapt very well to the area in which it has lived since its birth.
Although it is not a bird that presents many problems when being in human contact, if it is captured when it was free, it would not be strange at all for it to become violent. Toucans are very affectionate and friendly when they already have a relationship with their human being, and much more with other birds. As a general rule, they do not tend to get along with other birds that are in the same cage, so it is best to put it in a separate one.
I want to have a toucan, but is it legal?
That’s a good question. Morality says it encourages us to think that it is illegal to have a toucan as a pet and in some countries it is punishable by a fine or jail, prohibiting its sale, possession of it or the reproduction of the animal because it is in danger of extinction.
So how come some people have a toucan? In reality, the only way to get one, and thus enjoy the company of this fantastic bird, would be to have an ecological nucleus certificate, respecting the CITES agreement on transport and origin. However, this requires having a lot of land in the house or obtaining a special permit to have it at home, which rarely happens, but it is not impossible since there are very few who believe that this animal should live in a cage.
I have got permission to have a toucan, now what do I have to know?
Unlike a parrot or a parakeet, the toucan is a bird that needs a very special and large type of cage. The best thing would be to buy a cage that is 3 meters wide, 3 meters deep, and 4 meters high so that it has enough room to move. But if this is not the case, a medium-sized cage will suffice. On the other hand, the shape should be square or rectangular, to avoid causing psychological stress to the bird. The separation between the bars should not be greater than 2 centimeters, to avoid that it can put the pick between the bars and get stuck.
It must be remembered that it is a bird used to live in forests, which is why the large cage is so important because that way you can put branches or trees through which it can move and does not sit outside its habitat. They really like to walk from one branch to another. But if it is a small species, in this case with some hangers they could be worth as long as they are made of natural wood so that the claws of the legs can be sharpened.
The most important thing in a cage for a toucan is that it is resistant. The toucan’s beak is quite strong and sharp, which they like to sharpen on branches or tree trunks. If the cage is made of poor quality material, such as plastic, in a couple of days it will have broken the bars. So it has to be made of something quite resistant, such as stainless steel, which is also much easier to clean.
Unlike other animals, the toucan is not usually a bird that likes to play so much, but it is okay to have some other toy, such as ropes or a rubber toy with which it can entertain itself inside its cage.
It is better if the feeder and drinker are removable or hooked on the outside, this way you avoid creating an escape route where it could get stuck and die.
If I have it out of the cage, is it good?
There is nothing to prevent having the toucan out of the cage. Only, since it is illegal to cut their feathers so that they cannot fly, you have to be especially careful with open windows.
However, when this bird has lived in captivity and the cage is kept outside, they will rarely escape exploring the world since the place where they live for the first time is the one they will call home, thus you don’t have to worry about leaks when you let it fly free.
They do not usually have problems relating to animals such as cats and dogs, but you have to be careful with their character since if they feel threatened, it would not be strange that they will try to attack them using their beak.
Where to put a toucan cage
Since the cage has to be of such a large size, you may find it difficult to find a place in the house to place it. The most advisable thing, unless you have a large house, would be to place it outside, so that the toucan is more used to life outside.
Despite being a bird that gets used to its surroundings very early, the most recommended temperature for it is between 18 – 28 degrees, with a humidity of 60 to 85%. Although you can acclimatize to other types of weather without much trouble.
If you are going to have it at home, the location of the cage is not very different from that of other birds, respecting some rules:
- Place it at the level of your eyes, so that the toucan does not feel oppressed by being too low or powerful by being above your field of vision.
- Two of the walls of the cage should be in contact with the wall, since this way the bird will see you arrive and will not be scared so easily.
- Avoid placing the cage in a room with a lot of drafts, so it won’t get sick so easily.
- It is not good that the sun hits it directly and has no way to protect itself, so do not put it near windows.
Cleaning a toucan’s cage, what do I have to do?
Cleaning products are toxic to any type of bird, so if you haven’t earned their trust yet, you’ll have to move them to another cage while you clean them. If not, you can leave it out of the cage to get a little exercise.
To remove traces of bacteria, it is best to clean the cage using bleach diluted in water, cleaning each bar with a brush to ensure that there is no residue. Then soak them in water and dry them with a damp cloth. Then wait half an hour before putting the toucan back in the cage.
There are many products on the market to clean the bird’s cage, but you always have to remember that these can be toxic to it, so you have to remove it before using them.
I want to get along with my toucan, but is it possible?
Although the toucan is not as affectionate as an animal as the lovebird, it is very loving with its owners, since being used to living in one place throughout their lives, they tend to establish a certain friendship with those who live in their habitat.
First of all, patience will be required. The cage should be located in a room with a lot of social activity so that the bird gets used to human contact. They may be a little suspicious at first, but that’s normal. In a few days, he will get used to having people around him.
The fact that it is the same person who gives him food and water will gradually form a bond and at first, he will not let himself be touched, but if he puts his finger between the bars shortly after giving him his food, he will slowly get closer. until finally letting his head or back be stroked. In no case should you touch the beak unless the bird is left because it is a very important part of their body for them?
Once he gets close to the bars to let himself be touched, you have to start thinking about trying to let him out of the cage. You can use the same trick that is used with other birds of trying to get it on the finger, or the hand depending on the species, and remove it from the cage on the arm. To do this, you have to “buy” it with a bauble so that it comes close to hand. At first, it may bite, but never get mad at it, as the bird will be scared.
Once it can land on your arm, it is time to remove it from the cage and let it explore the surroundings, closing the windows to prevent it from flying away. Letting him walk quietly is the best way for him to want to go back to his cage later, as he will soon be hungry. It can be helped by making it rise on the arm with an order like “up”, but never by taking it because that supposes an aggressive behavior on the part of its owner and they do not like it very much.
What does the toucan eat?
Toucans are mainly vegetarians and have a very particular characteristic: their stomach is very small and food spends very little time in it, so the food that is given must always be highly hydrated so that the animal does not suffer blows. heat or heat stroke.
Those who have a toucan at home usually resort to small, soft meatballs, made with boiled rice, carrot, cucumber, and potato to complete the fruit-eating base of this bird’s diet. Sometimes it is good that they include a little minced meat, preferably inside the meatball, so that the diet can be balanced as if they were in freedom.
But, for those who do not want to make a lot of mistakes and want their toucan to live for a long time and have a happy and prosperous life, it is better to resort to the basic toucan diet, which is mainly composed of eating apple, melon, peach, banana, pear, mango, kiwi, papaya, prickly pear and strawberry.
You also have to give vegetables, especially those with rich water content such as cucumber, tomato, carrot, corn, pea, or guatila. Salad? It can also be given a little, but in very low amounts, since it is a food that can cause diarrhea, even though its composition is mainly water.
These two foods would be the ones that would make up the bird’s diet. However, although its staple food is the fruit, it can also be supplemented with other foods, such as whole-wheat bread to make meatballs or cardboard meat, or tenebrious. You can also give small animals, such as lizards, insects, eggs of other birds, and, although this is prohibited in other countries, pigeons.
Thus, the toucan’s daily diet must be made up of 60% fruit and vegetables, while the remaining 40% should be made up of some complimentary food, taking care at all times of the iron levels that can harm this bird.
It must be borne in mind that toucans are not animals that eat too much, eating only twice a day so that they are satiated. But they need to have clean water at all times, although they don’t drink much, they need to be well hydrated. So if one day you do not give him food that is rich in water, it is recommended that you put enough fresh water to drink. If you do not want to drink there is no need to worry, since with the water of the fruit and vegetables that they drink they have more than enough to feel hydrated.
Diseases that a toucan can have
Toucans do not have a very long life expectancy, especially if they live in captivity. This is due, especially, to the fact that they can suffer from a series of very characteristic diseases:
- Plucking its feathers: If it is suddenly detected that the toucan is plucking its feathers in an uncontrolled way, this is a sign that it may have some parasites among the feathers that will have to be located and eradicated. It can also be due to a state of emotional stress or that you have a very low mineral diet.
- Abnormal plumage shedding: Toucans shed their plumage once a year, but suddenly it can be detected that they are suffering from abnormal feather shedding. This may be because he is stressed or because he feels very nervous having moved his cage.
- Hemosiderosis: It is the most common disease in toucans and the main cause of their high mortality in captivity. It is caused by increased iron levels in some of your organs and bloodstream. If detected early, it can be dealt with, but if it is missed, it could increase and become hemosiderosis.
- Hemochromatosis: A more serious grade of the above disease in which there is the accumulation of iron in certain organs and this causes them to work badly and you can have problems with your heart or that one of the organs functions as it should. If it suffers from severe cases, the bird will die within 24 hours.
- Beak fracture: It is usually the most common “disease” in toucans since they use their beak for almost everything and with a bad movement they can break it or dislocate it, so to speak. For example, they use it to hit a wall or for a bad movement inside their cage.
- Idiopathic diabetes mellitus: Lately it is a disease that is frequently detected in toucans. Among the different symptoms are weight loss, high glucose levels, bloody stools and urine, and a great excess of thirst. Some experts assure that this disease can be produced by some tumors, but it is not completely proven.
- Joint gout: Like humans, toucans can also suffer from gout. This can be produced by a deficit of proteins, minerals, and calcium. Therefore, they have to receive vitamin and anti-inflammatory supplements, avoiding the stress of the bird at all times.
- Avian Pseudotuberculosis: It especially affects this type of bird and is one of the main causes of the death of this bird due to an acute reaction after having been pregnant for a certain period of time. It is deadly for birds and symptoms include an enlarged liver, ascites, and pneumonia.
- Common cold: Toucans are very hardy birds, but they are not free from catching a common cold. The main cause is that the cage is located in a place where they receive drafts. It can be cured with antibiotics in the water.
- Heatstroke: Although there are species of toucans that are used to living in very hot environments, some do not take heat very well above 28º C. It is necessary to avoid being near the sun, with enough water and giving them food that helps keep you hydrated.
- Necrotic enteritis: A watery bacterial disease that destroys the intestinal mucosa. It usually causes the bird to show listless behavior, dehydration, diarrhea with foul-smelling feces, and bleeding from the nostrils along with the mucus.
- Chlamydia: Few cases of the chlamydial disease have been documented, especially among toucans. In this case, to intervene, it is necessary to use Doxycycline, either through oral intake in the mildest cases or intravenously in the most serious ones.
- Parasites: If the food given to the toucan is in poor condition, it would not be surprising if it ends up having parasites. Because of this, you will lose your appetite, feel sad, and dejected. To combat them, you have to take him to the vet.
- Candidiasis: It is produced by a microscopic fungus, very present in nature, which attacks the bird when its immune system is weak. Therefore, among the toucan’s foods, it must be ensured that it receives enough vitamin C to be always ready to be able to fight the disease and repel it.
- Aspergillosis: It usually occurs especially in young birds, which show a very slow development due to a poor diet. Among other causes is also the accumulation of feces in your home, which creates an ideal environment for the birth of fungi that are then inhaled by the young that have just had this disease due to their low defenses.
- Ascarids: A type of parasite that frequently attacks toucans and, if not treated, supposes their premature death. Treatment is very easy, but they can be fatal if they are not eliminated within a week. The toucan will have lost its appetite, will be dejected, and may try to pluck feathers.
- Plasmodium: It is not a common type of parasite in toucans, but there have been some species that have been attacked by this parasite. It is usually due to a mild infection and usually causes deaths. The toucan is aggressive, both with the owner and with his companions, which is the sign that he is being attacked by this parasite.
Raising a toucan: what do I have to do?
First of all, separate the pair of toucans that you want them to breed. It must be remembered that it is difficult to differentiate between the male and the female, so it will be necessary to resort to the DNA test to find out what sex each bird is.
Once you have been able to identify the male and female, you have to give them a nest, better made of quality wood, so that they are comfortable, although toucans usually put them inside tree holes. Toucans mate once a year and lay two to four white eggs.
The incubation period lasts from 15 to 20 days, sharing the time in the nest between the male and the female. When hatchlings hatch, they are featherless, deaf and the eyes keep them closed for three weeks. They stay in the nest with their parents, bring food for them, until two months, which is when their beak fully develops and it is time to separate them from their parents.
Before thinking about having babies, it must be taken into account that the toucan is monogamous, so it is not possible to pair it with another bird once it has met its “love”. Also, they are not sexually active until they have reached the age of three.
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