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The toucans are animals that for years have lived with the human race, becoming one of the most loved tropical animals by humans. However, it seems that the same human activity is killing them.

Types of toucans

What do you know about toucans?

The toucans are better known as ranfástidos (or Ramphastidae), although they are also known in some places as diotedé or diostedé. It has six different genera in which a total of 42 species of toucans are differentiated.

They are widely distributed in the American continent, from Mexico to Argentina. The normal thing is that they are in humid tropical forests of low altitude, although there are some species that live in 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.

How is a toucan?

In addition to being a great bird of slow movement and long life, there are two things that especially highlights the toucan of the rest of birds: the first are their feathers with colors and striking, and then the beak, large. They can measure up to 65 centimeters, although there are some species that only reach 25 – 30 centimeters. Its beak has an approximate length of 20 centimeters. Its weight ranges from 130 to 680 grams.

They has a long tongue, which can reach up to 14 centimeters, narrow and ending in a tip. The wings are small, with a square tail that has great ease to move from top to bottom. Its eyes are surrounded by a skin of bright colors. They are birds with the most developed sense of sight. The legs are short and strong, which allows them to walk without problems despite the weight of the large beak and with which they can be held and moved by the branches.

They do not present sexual dimorphism, so it is difficult to differentiate between male and female. Although, according to experts, the females has a peak a little smaller and straight than that of the male.

How long can a toucan live?

Although there are different species, all seem to share the same life expectancy: 20 years, although there are some specimens that have exceeded it but almost none reach 30 years.

However, although their diet is not at all complicated when they live in captivity, they usually do not exceed 18 years of life because they get sick of hemochromatosis by a strong iron diet instead of the fruits they need to live.

How is the behavior of a toucan?

There are not many human beings who choose to have a toucan at home, despite the great fame it has. It is a sedentary bird, that lives in a single area almost all its life (few are those that migrate in search of another place), what makes that it adapts very well to the zone in which it is living since its birth.

Although it is not a bird that presents many problems to be in contact with human, if it is captured when it was released it would not be at all strange that it became violent. The toucans are very affectionate and affable when they already has a relationship with their human being, and much more with other birds. As a general rule, they do not usually get along with other birds that are in the same cage, so it is beter to put it aside

I want to have a toucan, but is it legal?

That is a good question. Morality says 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 or reproduction of the animal because it is in danger of extinction.

So, how there are people who has a toucan? In fact, the only way to get one, and thus enjoy the company of this fantastic bird, would be to have an ecological core certificate, respecting the CITES agreed on transport and origin. However, this requires having a lot of land in the house or getting a special permit to have it at home, something that rarely happens, but it is not impossible since there are very few who believe that this animal should live in a cage.

I’ve 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 type of cage and large. The best thing would be to buy a cage 3 meters wide, 3 deep and 4 meters high so it has enough space to move around. But if this is not the case, a half-size cage will suffice. On the other hand, the shape must be square or rectangular, to avoid causing psychological stress to the bird. The separation between the bars should not be more than 2 centimeters, to avoid being able to put the peak between the bars and get stuck.

Remember that it is a bird used to living in forests, hence the large cage is so important, because you can put branches or trees that can move and do not feel out of their habitat. They like to walk from one branch to another. But if it is a small species, in this case with a hangers 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 sharp , which they like to sharpen on the branches or on the trunks of the trees. If the cage is made of poor quality material, such as plastic, in a couple of days the bars will be broken. So it has to be 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 nothing happens to have the odd toy, such as ropes or a rubber toy that can be entertained in its cage.

It is better that the feeder and sprue are removable or are hooked on the outside, in this way you avoid creating an escape route in which it could get stuck and die.

If I have it out of the cage, is it good?

There is nothing that prevents having the toucan out of the cage. Only, as it is illegal to cut off the feathers so they can not fly, you have to be especially careful with the windows open.

However, when this bird has lived in captivity and has the cage outside, they are rarely going to escape to explore the world since the place where they live for the first time is the one they will consider their home, as well that you do not have to worry about leaks when you let it fly free.

They do not usually has problems relating to animals such as dogs and cats, but you have to be careful with the nature of these, because if they feel threatened, it would not be strange that they will try to attack them using their beaks.

I have the cage, but now where does it place it?

Since the cage has to be of such a large size, it may be difficult for you to find a place in the house in which to place it. The most advisable, 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 environment very early, the most recommended temperature for it is between 18 – 28 degrees, with a humidity of 60 to 85%. Although you can acclimate to other types of weather without many problems.

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:

  • Locate it at eye level, so that the toucan does not feel oppressed to be very low or powerful to be 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 it will not be scared so easily.
  • Avoid that the cage is located in a room with many corrientes de aire, so it will not get sick so easily.
  • It is not good that the sun gives it directly and has no way to protect itself, so do not put it near windows.

Cleaning the cage, what do I have to do?

Cleaning products are toxic to any type of bird, so if you have not yet earned its trust, you will have to move it to another cage while cleaning it. In the opposite case, you can leave it outside the cage to do 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 no remains are left. Then soak them with water and dry them with a damp cloth. Wait a half hour before putting the toucan back into 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 an animal as loving as agapornis, it is very loving with its owners, since being accustomed 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 must be located in a room of great social activity, so that the bird gets used to human contact. It is possible that at first something suspicious is shown, but that is something normal. A few days later it will get used to having people around it.

It is the same person who gives food and water will gradually form a bond and at first will not be touched, but if you put your finger between the bars shortly after giving its food, will slowly approaching until finally let you stroke its head or its back. In no case should you touch the peak unless the bird is left, because it is a very important part for them of their body.

Once it get close to the bars to let itself be touched, you have to think about trying to let it out of the cage. You can use the same trick that is used with other birds to try to climb on the finger, or to the hand according to the species, and remove it from the cage on the arm. To do this you have to “buy” for it s snack to be close to hand. At the beginning it is possible that it bites, but never it is necessary to be angry with it, since the bird will be scared.

Once it get to pose on the arm, it’s time to remove it from the cage and let it explore the surroundings, closing the windows to prevent it from flying. Letting it walk calmly is the best way to later want to return to its cage, since it will soon be hungry. It can be helped by placing it on the arm with an order like “up”, but never taking it, because that means aggressive behavior on the part of his owner and they do not like it very much.

What do I feed my toucan?

The toucans are mainly vegetarian and has a very particular characteristic: their stomach is very small and the food spends very little time in it, so the food that is given always has to be very hydrated so that the animal does not suffer blows of heat or sunstroke.

Those who has a toucan at home often go to a small, soft meatballs made with boiled rice, carrot, cucumber and potato to complete the fruit-based diet of this bird. Sometimes it is good to include a bit of minced meat, preferably inside the meatball, so that you can balance the diet, as if they were free.

But, for those who do not want to be very wrong 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 diet of the toucan, which consists mainly of eating apple, melon, peach, banana , pear, mango, kiwi, papaya, tuna and strawberry.

You also have to give vegetables, especially those with a rich water content such as cucumber, tomato, carrot, corn, peas or guatila. Salad? It can also be given a little, but in very low amounts, since it is a food that can cause diarrhea, although its composition is mainly water.

These two foods would be those that would make up the diet of the bird. However, although its basic food is the fruit, it can also be supplemented with other foods, such as wholemeal bread to make meatballs or cardboard meat or tenebrios. You can also give small animals, such as lizards, insects, eggs of other birds , although this is prohibited in other countries.

Thus, the daily diet of the toucan must be composed of 60% fruit and vegetables, while the remaining 40% should be a complementary food, taking care at all times the levels of iron that can harm this bird.

Keep in mind that toucans are not animals that eat too much, eating only twice a day to be satiated. But they need to have clean water at all times, even though they do not drink much, they need to be well hydrated. So if one day you do not give a food that is rich in water, it is advisable to put enough fresh water to drink. If it do not want to drink, there is no need to worry, because with the water of the fruit and vegetables that they drink, they has more than enough to feel hydrated.

What are the diseases that a toucan can has?

Toucans do not has 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 the feathers: If suddenly it is detected that the toucan is plucking the feathers in an uncontrolled way, this is a sign that it may has some parasites among the feathers that will has to be located and eradicated. It can also be due to a state of emotional stress or that has a very low mineral diet.
  • Abnormal plumage change: The toucans shed their plumage once a year, but suddenly it can be detected that they are suffering from an abnormal feather fall. This may be because iy is stressed or because it feels very nervous having moved its cage.
  • Hemosiderosis: It is the most common disease in toucans and the main cause of its high mortality in captivity. It is caused by an increase in iron levels in some of its organs and bloodstream. If it is detected early, it can be confronted, but if it is passed, it could increase and become a hemosiderosis.
  • Hemochromatosis: A more severe degree of the previous disease in which there are accumulations of iron in certain organs and this makes them work poorly and may has heart problems or that any of the organs function as they should. If you suffer severe cases, in 24 hours the bird will die.
  • Peak fracture: It is usually the “disease” most common in toucans, since they use the beak for almost everything and with a bad movement they can break it or dislocate it, so to speak. As 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 levels of glucose, feces and urine with blood and a great excess of thirst. Some experts say that this disease may be caused by some tumors, but it is not fully proven.
  • Joint drop: Like the human being, toucans can also suffer from gout. This may be caused by a deficit of proteins, minerals and calcium. Therefore, they must receive vitamin and anti-inflammatory supplements, avoiding at all times the stress of the bird.
  • Pseudotuberculosis Avian: It affects especially this type of birds and is one of the main causes of death of this bird by an acute reaction after having gestated for a certain period of time. It is deadly for birds and among the symptoms is an increase in liver size, ascites and pneumonia.
  • Common cold: Toucans are very resistant birds, but they are not free to catch a common cold. The main cause is that the cage is located in a place where they receive air currents. It can be cured with antibiotics in water.
  • Heat stroke: Although there are species of toucans that are accustomed to living in very warm environments, some do not carry heat very well above 28º C. You have to avoid them being close to the sun, with plenty of water and giving them food that help to stay hydrated.
  • Necrotic enteritis: A bacterial water disease that produces a destruction of the intestinal mucosa. It usually causes the bird to show apathetic behavior, dehydration, diarrhea with foul-smelling stools and hemorrhages in the nostrils along with the mucus.
  • Chlamydia: There are few cases that has been documented for chlamydia diseases, especially among toucans. In this case, to be able to intervene it must be used Doxycycline, either through oral intake in the mildest cases or average intravenous in the most serious.
  • Parasites: In the event that the food given to the toucan is in poor condition, it would not be surprising that it ends up having parasites. Because of this, it will lose its appetite, it will feel sad and dejected. To fight them, you have to take them 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 food, you have to make sure that it get enough vitamin C to be able to be ready to fight the disease and repel it.
  • Aspergillosis: It is usually given especially in chicks, which show a very slow development due to poor diet. Among other causes is also the accumulation of faeces in its place, which create an ideal environment for the birth of fungi that are then inhaled by the offspring that ended up having this disease due to their low defenses.
  • Ascaridos: A type of parasite that frequently attacks the toucans and in the case of not being treated supposes its premature death. The treatment is very easy, but they can be deadly if they are not eliminated within a week. The toucan will has lost its appetite, will feel dejected and may try to pluck feathers.
  • Plasmodium: It is not a common type of parasite in the toucans, but there has been some species that has been attacked by this parasite. It is usually due to a mild infection and usually causes the deaths. The toucan is aggressive, both with the owner and with its companions, which is the sign that it is being attacked by this parasite.

It’s time to breed, what do I have to do?

The first thing is to separate the toucan couple that you want them to breed. You have to remember that it is difficult to differentiate between male and female, so you have to resort to DNA testing to know what sex is each bird.

Once the male and female has been identified, they should be given a nest, better of quality wood, so that they are comfortable, although toucans usually put them inside tree holes. Toucans mate once a year and place two to four white eggs.

The incubation period lasts 15 to 20 days, sharing the time in the nest between the male and the female. The young when they are born do not has feathers, they are deaf and the eyes keep them closed for three weeks. They stay in the nest with the parents, being food for these, until the two months that it is when its peak develops completely and it is time to separate them from their parents.

Before thinking about having babies, we must bear in mind that the toucan is monogamous, so it is not possible to pair it with another bird once it has known its “love”. Also, they are not sexually active until they are three years old