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Do Toucans Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Instantly recognizable for their large, brightly-colored bill, Toucans eat fruit as well as insects and some small animals. These South American birds are large, strong, and skilled flyers. They require rigorous and planned care, and they do not do well in busy households with lots of people and other pets. It’s also very challenging to find a Toucan sitter, should you wish to go away or even have a day away. They are also known as the world’s loudest birds. As such, they do not make good pets for all owners.

But, if you are willing to live your life by your Toucan’s feeding schedule and you have a lot of room and a relatively quiet house, they can be affectionate, are rarely destructive, and despite being omnivorous animals that benefit from meat protein, they are easy to feed. Read on to find out more about owning this unique species as a pet and the impact it can have on your life.

divider-birdsAbout Toucans

Resident to Central and Southern America, the Toucan is an arboreal bird, which means that they live some of their lives 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, some 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 as they would enjoy in the wild.

Toucan resting on a tree
Image Credit: suju-foto, pixabay

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 some areas, including some states in the US, 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 it requires to thrive and stay healthy. This means meeting a routine feeding schedule.

5 Reasons Toucans Make Great Pets

If you are committed to keeping this exotic bird, it can make a wonderful pet that adapts to your family and offers several benefits to its new owner:

1. 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 mealworms, waxworms, and a small amount of boiled egg as a treat. Toucans do not chew food before swallowing, which means that the most important consideration when formulating a diet for the bird is to ensure that it is fed small morsels, rather than big chunks.

fried egg with two yolks
Image Credit: Suzanne deDisse, Pixabay

2. 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 it is startled or scared. The size of the Toucan’s bill can make it 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 while shaking a finger, it may draw blood, but it does not have the same capability to damage fingers as parrots.

3. They Live Up To 25 Years

They do not have the same life expectancy as large parrots that 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. Smaller birds have a shorter life expectancy. The Toucan’s target age means that you shouldn’t have to worry about who you will pass it on to if it outlives you but still gives you plenty of time to enjoy with your bird.

4. Affectionate Pets

With early and ongoing socialization, this species can become very affectionate with its owners and is considered an intriguing and active bird. Once they form a bond with an owner, 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 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.

Toucan side view_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

5 Reasons a Toucan Might Not Be Right for You

While they do make affectionate pets that are not prone to destructive behavior, the Toucan is not the right pet for all owners. There are several reasons why one might not be the best choice of bird for your family:

1. They Take a Lot of Care

If you enjoy lots of days away and spontaneous weekends away, a Toucan is not the right pet for you. They need fresh fruit that is prepared each morning. They take a lot of cleaning up after, and they are sociable birds, which means that they do not enjoy a lot of time apart from their owner. Expect to spend two to three hours a day on the general care of your bird.

Keel-Billed Toucan
Image Credit: NatureForGirls, Pixabay

2. Messy Habits

One of the reasons that 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 blueberries or other staining fruit like raspberries, the poop can cause permanent stains.

3. They Are Pricey

The initial cost of a Toucan is several thousand dollars, up to as much as $5,000 or more. You will need to build an outdoor enclosure or buy a large indoor one. And then there’s the cost of buying fresh fruit every day to meet dietary needs. Even toys can cost a lot of money. Expect an annual care bill amounting to several thousand dollars a year.

4. Large Cage

Whether you keep your Toucan indoors or out, it needs space. This means that you will either have to build an outdoor enclosure that offers height as well as floor space or buy a large cage that is designed for the 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 that you have managed to train in the ways of Toucan care, you are very unlikely to find a local sitter or carer that can look after your bird while you’re away. This means that you will struggle to even enjoy a night away without having to come back and feed your bird.

divider-birdsDo 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 owner, they can make an excellent pet, but they are not suitable for all people and you must carefully consider whether a Toucan is right for you, or if you wouldn’t be better suited to a different species of pet bird.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.