Instantly recognizable for their large, brightly colored bills, Toucans eat fruit, insects, and small animals. These South American birds are also large, strong, and skilled flyers. They require rigorous and planned care, and they do not do well in busy households with many people and other pets. It would be incredibly challenging to find a Toucan sitter, should you ever wish to go on vacation. They are also known as the world’s loudest birds. As such, Toucans do not make good pets for all owners.
However, if you are willing to live your life by your Toucan’s feeding schedule and you have plenty of room and a relatively quiet house, these birds can be quite affectionate and are rarely destructive, and despite being omnivorous animals that benefit from meat protein, they are easy to feed. Read on to learn more about owning this unique species as a pet and the impact that it can have on your life.
Resident to Central and Southern America, the Toucan is an arboreal bird, which means that they live some of their life in trees. They eat fruits from the tops of trees, which are often left behind by other animals that cannot reach the same heights, and they will also eat eggs, small lizards, and insects. Some captive Toucans take readily to a cage diet consisting solely of insects, but it is good to give them the same variety that they would enjoy in the wild.
Can You Keep a Toucan as a Pet?
Always check local laws concerning the keeping of birds and exotic pets. You may need a license in certain areas, including a few states in the U.S., and the keeping of this species is illegal altogether in some countries.
If it is legal to keep a Toucan as a pet where you live, know that you will need plenty of time and space to ensure that your new bird has the conditions that they require to thrive and stay healthy. This means meeting a routine feeding schedule.
The 5 Reasons Toucans Make Great Pets
If you are committed to keeping this exotic bird, they can make a wonderful pet that adapts to your family and offers several benefits to their new owner.
1. They Have a Simple Diet
In the wild, Toucans are omnivorous. They predominantly eat fruit but will also consume insects, eggs, and small lizards when they are readily available. In captivity, their diet consists of pelleted food supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables. You can feed them mealworms, waxworms, and a small amount of boiled eggs as treats. Toucans do not chew food before swallowing, which means the most important consideration when formulating a diet for the bird is to ensure that they are fed small morsels, rather than big chunks.
2. Their Bites Don’t Hurt
Although they are known for being affectionate pets, the Toucan, like any pet bird, has the potential to bite, especially if they are startled or scared. The size of the Toucan’s bill can make them seem quite intimidating, but the hooked end means that a bite from this bird does not cause injury and will not hurt. If the bird is being aggressive and fully bites down on a finger, that action may draw blood, but they do not have the same capability to damage fingers as parrots do, for example.
3. They Live Up to 25 Years
They do not live as long as large parrots, which can live for 50 to 60 years, but the Toucan has a captive life expectancy of around 25 years. This is generally considered to be a good middle ground. Most small birds have a short life expectancy. The Toucan’s typical age means you shouldn’t have to worry about whom you will pass them on to if they outlive you, but you still have plenty of time to enjoy with your bird.
4. They Can Be Affectionate Pets
With early and ongoing socialization, this species can become very affectionate with their owners and is considered an intriguing and active bird. Once they form a bond, Toucans quite enjoy snuggling up or cuddling with their owners because this replicates the feeling they would get from cozying up in the foliage of a tree, and it makes them feel secure.
5. They Are Not Destructive
This species is not considered destructive, which is why you will often see zoo Toucans in enclosures made from a soft mesh. They do not require a solid metal cage, unlike parrots and other more destructive birds. They are not prone to destroying furniture or other items around the house either, which makes them easier to house.
The 5 Reasons a Toucan Might Not Be Right for You
While they do make an affectionate pet that is not prone to destructive behavior, the Toucan is not the right for all owners. There are several reasons that one might not be the best choice of bird for your family.
1. They Require Significant Care
If you enjoy taking vacations and spontaneous weekends away, a Toucan is not the right pet for you. They need fresh fruit that is prepared each morning. They require a lot of cleaning up, and they are sociable birds, which means that they do not enjoy a lot of time apart from their owner. Expect to spend 2 to 3 hours a day on the general care of your bird.
2. They Have Messy Habits
One of the reasons you have to dedicate so much time to these birds is that they do create a lot of mess. Their enclosure will need cleaning daily, and while they are not known as a destructive species, the Toucan will throw their food in the air while eating, and they poop very frequently. If you feed them blueberries or other staining fruits like raspberries, the poop can cause permanent stains.
3. They Are Pricey
The initial cost of a Toucan is several thousand dollars, as much as $5,000 or more. You will need to build an outdoor enclosure or buy a large indoor one. Then there’s the cost of buying fresh fruit every day to meet their dietary needs. Even their toys can cost a lot of money. Expect an annual care bill amounting to several thousand dollars.
4. They Require a Large Cage
Whether you keep your Toucan indoors or outside, they need space. This means you will either have to build an outdoor enclosure that offers height and floor space or buy a large cage that is designed for a Toucan. If you live in a small apartment, consider something that requires less room.
5. Toucan Sitters Are Rarer Than Toucans
Toucans have quite specific care requirements, and unless you have a family member whom you have taught the ways of Toucan care, you are unlikely to find a local sitter or carer who can look after your bird while you’re away. This means you will struggle to even enjoy a night away without having to come back and feed your bird.
Do Toucans Make Good Pets?
Toucans are beautiful, affectionate, and fun birds. They are also expensive, messy, and require a lot of daily care. For the right owners, they can make excellent pets, but they are not suitable for all people. You must carefully consider whether a Toucan is right for you or if you would be better suited to a different species of pet bird.
Featured Image Credit: Fintaanobria, Pixabay