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Home > Birds > What Do Toucans Eat in the Wild and as Pets? Facts & FAQ

What Do Toucans Eat in the Wild and as Pets? Facts & FAQ

Keel-Billed Toucan

Toucans are well known for their large and colorful beaks. They have a long lifespan, with many birds living more than 25 years. However, Toucans are quite rare in the United States, so bird enthusiasts may have many questions that can be difficult to find answers to, and one of the ones we get most often is what do these colorful birds eat? In general, Toucans have similar diet in the wild and under human care, which consists of fruits, insects, invertebrates, rodents, and some vegetables. 

divider-birds What Is a Toucan?

Toucans are colorful birds with large, long beaks that will also have bright colors. Several species of Toucan range in size from 11 inches to more than 25 inches tall. The bill is usually longer than half its body length but remains extremely light. It helps the Toucan regulate its body temperature more efficiently and allows them to reach deep into tree holes to get food out of reach of other birds. The bill might also help them look more intimidating to other birds. Toucans can touch their head with their tail, which is how they sleep, appearing as a ball of feathers.

Toucan side view_Pixabay
Image By: JimmyDominico, Pixabay

What Does a Wild Toucan Eat?

Toucans are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meat. Usually, they opt to eat whatever kind of fruit they can find, so their diet likely contains plenty of prickly pears, guava, dragon fruit, mamey sapote, guanabana, and many others. They will also eat insects, small birds, small reptiles, and more. They prefer animal protein for feeding their young.

What Does a Captive Toucan Eat?

Captive toucans will have a similar diet to what they eat in the wild. Toucans can be fed bananas, apples, papaya, pear, mango, melons, and other fruits available. A number of insects are required to make sure it gets the proper amount of animal protein. Toucans will hunt any insects that enter its cage or enclosure. Hunting is fun to watch, and it helps this bird get the exercise it needs.

There are also several brands of commercial toucan food that can be purchased for birds under human care that will help provide a balanced diet.

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

What Should a Captive Toucan Avoid?

Toucans cannot eat citrus fruit or tomatoes. These foods can lead to excess iron storage in their bodies and can be fatal. Their diet should be free of oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, Haruka, tangerines, and many other types of citrus fruit.

Other Interesting Facts

  • The Toucan is one of the noisiest birds you are likely to encounter. Its singing sounds like croaking frogs, and that also makes tapping and clattering sound with their bill. Some have also said Toucans will bark and growl.
  • There are almost 40 different species of Toucan, and they can vary dramatically in size and color. While there will be many differences between the species, they will all have a large bill that appears too big for their body.
  • Many Toucan species face declining numbers due to habitat destruction, hunting, and the illegal pet trade.
  • As the Toucan moves around eating fruit, it benefits the rainforest by dropping seeds along the way. In fact, some plants rely exclusively on the Toucan to propagate.
  • While Toucans are on the list of birds you can legally keep as pets, it is not highly advisable. They are incredibly expensive to obtain – upwards of $10,000 – and keeping them happy and healthy as pets can be challenging.
  • A proper, balanced diet is crucial to a Toucan’s well-being. If kept as a pet, they are more susceptible to life-threatening diseases such as hemochromatosis.



The Toucan’s diet is easy to maintain and consists mainly of fruits and some animal protein. However, location and accessibility will determine what each bird feeds on regularly.

We hope you have enjoyed this short guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If we have helped inform you of a Toucan’s healthy diet, please share this guide on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: NatureForGirls, Pixabay

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