PET BIRD PERSONALITIES (12): Toucans, Touracos


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Toucans are medium-sized softbills from Latin America. Some birds are highly territorial. Their calls, which have been compared to howler monkeys at the zoo, can be irritating to some people.

The toucan’s most striking feature is the bill, which is surprisingly light-weight and contains a honeycomb-like structure inside it. Toucans are unable to use their beaks to chew, but with some work they can crush grapes in their beaks.

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Although the beak is not as useful as a parrot’s, it still presents a formidable weapon. If a toucan bites, his beak can be hard to remove from a finger or an ear. Some toucans require live food, such as small rodents, but much of their diet is made up of fruit.

Toucans are prone to hemachromatosis, an often fatal liver disease that results from being fed a diet too rich in iron. These birds also need to live in large aviaries or flights because they require a lot of exercise. Toucan keepers should know that these birds are infinitely curi-ous about their surroundings and will explore an enclosure thoroughly. Toucans will try to eat almost anything they can get their beaks on, so their aviaries or flights need to be toucan-proofed for their safety. Toucans are not recommended for first-time bird keepers.


Touracos are fruit eaters from Africa. These crested softbills can be housed in community aviaries, but, because they are very active, they need a large aviary or flight.

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Touracos are seldom aggressive toward other bird species, but they can treat their mates roughly during breeding season. They build flimsy nests and lay two eggs. Parent birds share incubation duties, and the eggs hatch after a twenty-one-day incubation. Hand-fed chicks make devoted pets. These birds are demanding and are not recommended for first-time bird keepers. (Source: Julia Rach Mancini: Why Does My Birds Do That?)

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