The Toco Toucan ‘Ramphastos toco’ is the most well known and largest member of the toucan family and is commonly found in zoos. Toco Toucans live in South American rainforests and Cerrado savannah. They are native to: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname. There are 37 species of Toco Toucans ranging from Mexico to Argentina.
Toco Toucan Characteristics
Toco Toucans have striking plumage with a black body, white throat and a blue or orange eye ring. Their most noticeable feature, however, is its huge yellow beak with a black or blue tip, which looks heavy but is incredibly light because the inside is hollow. Toco Toucans are an average of 25 inches long, with their beaks that measure up to 8 inches.
Toco Toucan Behaviour
Toco Toucans long beaks are useful for reaching things that otherwise would be out-of-reach. It is also used to skin fruit and scare off predators. Toco Toucans are typically seen in pairs or small family-groups. In flight it alternates between a burst of rapid flaps with the relatively short, rounded wings and gliding. Nesting is seasonal, but timing differs between regions. The nest is typically placed high in a tree and consists of a cavity, at least part of which is excavated by the parent birds themselves. It has also been recorded nesting in holes in earth-banks and terrestrial termite-nests.
Toco Toucans often gather in large groups and chatter loudly and noisily, their calls being synchronized with the fast upward swings of their beaks.
Toco Toucan Diet
The Toco Toucan eats mainly fruit using its beak, however, they will also occasionally eat insects, reptiles and bird eggs. Toco Toucans nest and roost in holes in trees.
Toco Toucan Reproduction
Toco Toucan reproduction cycle is annual. When breeding Toco Toucans search for fallen trees or holes for nesting sites. After mating, the female usually lays 2 pure white eggs a few days after mating.
The young hatch naked and blind after 16 – 18 days and remain up to 6 weeks in the nest, cared for by both parents. When it sleeps, a Toucan turns its head so that its long bill rests on its back, then folds its long tail neatly over it.
Toco Toucans as pets
When pulled from the nest and hand fed as babies they can eventually become pets. Toco Toucans do however require spacious cages to hop back and forth from because of their active nature and require toys in their cage to prevent boredom.
Toco Toucans high fruit diet and sensitivity to hemochromotosis (iron storage disease) make them difficult for the novice keeper to maintain. Also they fling their fruit so the potential owner should be prepared to clean up dried fruit. Toco Toucans are expensive birds to maintain.