FAQs

– FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS –

Because I receive countless messages from people inquiring about toucans, toucan care, toucans as pets, etc., I decided to compile a list of the most frequently asked questions I receive and provide my answers publicly, that way they’re available here for anyone in need.

As with everything you find on this site, please remember that the information presented here is based on my experiences with my three Toco toucans, as well as what I have learned over time working and socializing with fellow toucan owners, trainers, and other bird experts. While I do not consider myself an expert per se, what I do have to offer is pure honesty and a candid, unbiased perspective. I stand nothing to gain or lose. I just believe that if I am going to put adorable pictures and videos of my Three-Cans out there in the internet world, it is then my responsibility to also provide as accurate of information as is available to me for those whose curiosity has been sparked as a result of said adorable pictures and videos.

If you have a question relating to toucans that has not been covered on the list below, or if you have a correction to any of the information I’ve provided, please feel free to contact me at toucanlady@adventuresintoucanland.com and I’ll be happy to assist you.

– ABOUT OUR THREE-CANS –

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Is Toucanland a theme park we can come visit?
No, we’re not a theme park, though it sure does sound like one, doesn’t it? I came up with the name “Adventures in Toucanland” as a play on Alice in Wonderland, mainly because I feel as though in adopting these Three-Cans, I fell down a figurative rabbit hole that turned my world as I knew it upside down. My life is now very toucan-centric, hence “Toucanland”. That being said, I do enjoy how this website, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram have connected me to so many fun people online over the years and do my best to allow people to come visit and meet the Three-Cans if they happen to make it to our part of the world. If you are traveling to the British Virgin Islands, we can certainly try and link up if our schedules align. You can reach me at toucanlady@adventuresintoucanland.com to inquire further.
Do the toucans know their names?
Yes, toucans are extremely intelligent animals and quickly learn their names, among many other word associations. My Three-Cans not only answer to their given names, but also to a wide variety of silly nicknames I’ve given each of them over time. 
What are their individual personalities like?
The Three-Cans are definitely unique individuals, very different from one another in their behavior and preferences. I have actually written some playful personality profiles for each of them, which you can find by clicking the following links: Paco’s Personality Profile Paz’s Personality Profile Pepe’s Personality Profile
How much do your toucans weigh?
Paz, our female, is the largest and generally weighs around 640 grams. Paco is the smallest and generally weighs around 600 grams. Pepe usually falls somewhere in between, around 620 grams..
What is wrong with your toucans’ beaks?
We adopted our three Tocos out of a situation that was less than ideal. I do not feel as though they were treated, housed, or cared for properly. All three of them had damaged beaks when we adopted them, but because I know very little about their pasts, I do not know how their beaks got damaged in the first place. Once a toucan’s beak is damaged, it will not repair itself but instead, remains a weak point, susceptible to further damage, throughout the rest of the toucan’s life. We do our best to protect their beaks from further damage as much as we can, as they chip easily. Paz and Pepe, who were a pair at one point, did manage to chip their beaks a bit more than Paco’s due to the typical toucan courtship behavior of “beak fencing”, which they engaged in while they were together.
Why do your three toucans live separately?
Unfortunately, our Three-Cans do not get along with one another. While they behave as a flock in many ways, they prefer to live in their own separate aviaries. They were living separately when we adopted them and judging by their behavior, I don’t imagine they’ve ever shared a space with another bird before. While we would love it if they could live together and enjoy the company of other members of their species, our attempts to socialize them with one another failed and they seem happy to live as they are, in separate aviaries, side by side.
Why is Paco the only toucan you bring inside your house?
Based on the toucans’ behaviors when we adopted them, I get the impression that they had never really been indoors before and have lived most of their lives in outdoor aviaries. Indoor spaces have always seemed to terrify them. Paco is naturally the most brave of the Three-Cans and because his reaction to anything new is generally curiosity over fear, I have had the most training progress with him. Because Paco was so fearful of the indoors initially, I had to move slowly in order to introduce him to time inside to ensure it was a positive experience and safe for him. When toucans get stressed and panic, they have a tendency to fly around without focus and wildly, almost as though they have blinders on. So before he came inside, I trained him extensively in his outdoor aviary to build his confidence in me, our relationship, and the relative safety/security it brings, and his recall skills. This way, when it was time to introduce him to the indoors which he perceived as a “scary” place, he could take comfort in my presence because of our strong relationship, and when he invariably panicked, he would know it was safe to fly and land on me due to the confidence that had been previously built through repetition in our training.I am currently still working with Paz in our training to get her to a point where it is safe to introduce her to the indoors as well. My progress with her is slower, mostly due to the fact that she is much more timid and fearful by nature. I hope to be able to bring her inside for playtime as I do with Paco in the future.Because of Pepe’s handicap, it is not safe for me to bring him inside the house. His special aviary acts as a safety net, as it prevents him from hurting himself whenever he loses his balance and falls. In the house, without such protection, he could injure himself very easily.
Who takes care of the Three-Cans when you go on vacation?
Unfortunately, this has been one of the most challenging aspects of adopting the Three-Cans for us and one of the many reasons why I do not recommend large toucans as pets. They require several hours of care on a daily basis, which necessitates somebody physically staying at our house while we are away (a pet-sitter stopping by a couple of times per day wouldn’t be sufficient). Not only is their care more time-consuming and labor intensive then most pets, they are also extremely intimidating to most people. Paco, in particular, is very aggressive with most everyone but me and requires someone with patience, confidence, and experience with birds to be able to manage him in a positive, safe manner – especially since a part of his care requires the person to go inside his aviary with him. I have found that even most animal people have a difficult time relating to, and therefore having interest in, birds in general. We have been fortunate in the past to be able to hire our local veterinarians to care for the Three-Cans so that we can take short vacations, but we are certainly not able to get away as much as we would like due to a lack of appropriate toucan-sitters.
What do you do to keep the Three-Cans safe in a storm?
Living in the Caribbean, we are susceptible to hurricanes from time to time (though we’ve never had to go through one since we’ve adopted the Three-Cans yet, so… knock on wood!). The Three-Can’s aviaries are outdoors and exposed to the elements, so in the event of a major storm, we have large dog crates (the giant size made for Great Danes) which we have installed perches in that we can evacuate them to. They really dislike having to be cooped up in their crates though (as I’ve mentioned before, toucans are high energy birds that need lots of space to fly and move about), so we really only do this as a last resort to avoid any undue stressors on the birds. They have gone through some lighter tropical storms in their aviaries and have done just fine, so long as we provide them with a space for some protection from the wind by attaching temporary tarpaulins. 
Why don’t you release your toucans so they can be free in the wild?
Trust me – seeing these magnificent creatures in captivity breaks my heart on a daily basis and if I was able to release them and allow them to live freely, I would. We didn’t purchase these birds from a breeder and choose a life in captivity for them. We adopted them out of an unpleasant situation – they were already here in our area of the world and in need of a new home. This area of the world is not one of the places that their species is indigenous to and if they were set free here, they would not be able to find suitable food/water and would likely die shortly after release. CITES laws make it difficult for this species of bird to travel internationally, so it is also not an option to send them back to release them into their natural habitat. Besides that, we know very little about their history and suspect that they possess little natural survival skills anyway due to leading most, if not all, of their lives in captivity. For the Three-Cans, we are left with the only responsible option of providing them with the best care we are able to give for the rest of their lives with us.
Do you have any plans to breed your toucans?
No, we are not breeders and never intended to be. When we adopted the Three-Cans, we didn’t even know their genders. Our goal has always been to simply provide them with the best life possible, since they were given such a crappy start to their lives in captivity. I don’t believe that the larger species of toucans should be kept as pets anyway, and therefore would never perpetuate in that cycle by becoming a breeder. While we tried briefly to socialize Paz and Pepe together as a pair, the purpose was merely for them to hopefully enjoy the companionship of another member of their own species.
Are your toucans for sale?
No, our Three-Cans are not for sale and never will be for sale. It is our intention to care for them for the rest of their lives.

– GENERAL –

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How many different species of toucans are there?
There are roughly 38+ species of toucan, ranging from the largest – Tocos like my Three-Cans – to the smallest – Green Aracaris
Do toucans talk?
No, toucans do not have the physical ability to speak like parrots do.
What sounds do toucans make? Are they loud like parrots?
Toucans, in my experience, are not quite as vocal and not nearly as loud as parrots can be. In regard to sound, toucan species can be divided into two categories – “croakers” and “yelpers”. These categories are referring to the louder, alert calls that toucans make. My Toco toucans are “croakers” and make a croaking noise that sounds similar to a mix between a frog and a pig as their alarm call. Other species, such as Swainson’s toucans, are “yelpers”. The yelping call is quite a bit louder and much more high-pitched in comparison to the deeper croaking call. As for their main communicative vocalization, toucans make a purring (also commonly described as a clicking) sound. This soft noise is the one you will hear most frequently. They use it to convey all sorts of things – it is not simply a “happy” sound. What they are communicating through their purrs can be better understood by paying close attention to the body language it is attached to. You can read more in this post I wrote on my Three-Can’s vocalizations. Toucans will also make a few other vocalizations related to mating, particularly when nesting – though most toucan owners will never hear these sounds unless they are observing a breeding pair. You can hear one of them in this post I wrote on mating season behaviors I witnessed from our Three-Cans. .
How can you tell a male toucan from a female toucan?
This depends on the species of toucan. Many species, such as my Tocos, are not sexually dimorphic birds – meaning, they do not have any gender specific characteristics that are visible to us humans. When we adopted the Three-Cans, we didn’t know their genders and had to take a blood sample to find out through DNA testing. There are some species of toucan though, such as Green Aracaris, that are sexually dimorphic and display color variations to separate the males from the females.
Are toucans illegal to own?
Many species of toucans are protected on the CITES list, which can effect the legality of importing/exporting them in certain countries. See the CITES website for specifics.
Are toucans cuddly?
The larger species of toucans, such as my Tocos, are generally not cuddly birds and tend to prefer a lot of personal space. Paco is the only one of mine that will cuddle occasionally, but it is always brief and on his terms – he can never be convinced into snuggling if he’s not in the mood. Paco usually is cuddlier during the times of the year that he is molting, though even then, it is for no longer than 10 minutes max at a time, and generally no more than once per day. The rest of the year, he does not seek out cuddling or petting. Some of the smaller species of toucan, such as aracaris, can be a bit cuddlier as they are naturally group nesters and require less personal space. However, as with everything, all birds are individuals and will have their own preferences.
Does it hurt when they bite?
While the toucan beak can look intimidating, toucans do not actually have a lot of leverage in their beaks due to the length. So while a toucan bite definitely doesn’t feel good (they can put down an uncomfortable amount of pressure), they can’t break the skin and send you to the ER for stitches like a parrot can. If a toucan is behaving aggressively, they will actually often resort to forceful pecking over biting – which can do a lot of damage if you’re not careful (watch your eyeballs!). 
Are toucans messy birds?
Yup! A toucan’s main diet consists of fresh fruit and they toss their food in the air as they eat it. They will also fling their food around if they picked up something they don’t actually want to eat, or in an effort to clean their beaks. Due to not having a crop, they have fast metabolisms and eat often, pooping at roughly the same frequency. Their droppings are essentially just mushed up versions of whatever they consumed – bright puddles of barely processed fruit. My Three-Cans live year round in outdoor aviaries, which I hose down and rake each morning to keep clean and keep the pests to a minimum. I can’t imagine ever living with one of them inside the house full-time and have heard from fellow toucan owners that just keeping the walls clean surrounding even a tiny aracari’s enclosure is a never-ending sticky challenge. 
Should I clip my toucan’s wings?
No, I do not believe it is the appropriate choice to ever clip a toucan’s wings. Toucans move very differently than parrots do. Where a parrot can use its beak and feet to climb around, toucans are much more limited in their mobility and nowhere near as dexterous with their beaks and feet. To move around, toucans hop and fly. By clipping their wings, you take away their ability to fly and many will injure themselves from falling, attempting to get from perch to perch, as they’re only left with the ability to hop. Falling can lead to injury, feather breakage, and beak damage – especially if it happens repetitively. Toucans are very energetic birds that also require the ability to fly to exercise and expend some of that energy. Additionally, while many believe that clipping a bird’s wings helps to eliminate certain behavioral issues, I believe it often does the opposite. A bird with clipped wings has lost confidence in its ability to move itself out of undesirable situations and often resorts to fearful biting due to a lack of another option. You can read more about my experience with wing-clipping toucans here
What is the right temperature to keep a toucan?
Toucans are tropical birds whose natural habitats range throughout Central and South America. They are biologically suited to live in these warmer, more humid climates and thus do best in the same or similar environment. While you can keep a toucan in slightly chillier temperatures, it must come to adjust to the cold gradually and never be kept in near-freezing conditions exposed to the elements. You must also be careful of overheating if you live in an area that experiences extreme highs in the summer months. I don’t have a specific number range to advise you to stay within, as we live in the Caribbean. For us, temperatures fluctuate ever so slightly between winter and summer months where the average day temperature in “winter” ranges between 72-82ºF, dropping only a few degrees at night; it does get slightly warmer in the “summer” months with August and September being the hottest, though not too dramatic of a difference from winter – average temperatures range between 79-88ºF in summertime. Our environment is very similar to a toucan’s natural habitat, so we do not have to worry if it is too hot or too cold outside for them living outdoors year-round. When keeping a pet toucan, I’d advise to try and stay within a comfortable range, offering plenty of fresh air, and ensuring your environment has a moderate level of humidity. This is an excellent article that helps explain appropriate temperatures for tropical birds. 
How should you bathe a toucan?
Toucans are avid bathers and will take care of their bathing gleefully on their own if given the right “tools”. My Three-Cans absolutely hate being sprayed, or even misted. As with most toucans, they prefer to take long baths, hopping in and out of their bathing bowls until they are soaking wet. They preen themselves intermittently between dunkings, as well as in much more detail once they’re fully soaked.  Because of this, toucans require constant access to a bathing bowl that is large enough for them to hop into and fully immerse their body, while still keeping their head above the water and feet on the bottom of the bowl. My Three-Cans typically take baths every other day, though when they’re molting, they will usually up the frequency to once per day. Here’s a post I wrote on toucan bathtime, which includes photos and video. 
Do toucans need a nest to sleep in?
No. In fact, I’ve found that unless you are breeding a pair of toucans, the presence of a nest box/log inspires unnecessary hormonal behaviors and should not be provided. So long as they have a higher perch in which they feel secure, toucans will roost for the night in the open of their enclosure. My Three-Cans all have perches that they have designated as their “sleeping perches”. Paz, our female, actually prefers to sleep on her swing. At nightfall, they will station themselves on their “sleeping perch”, flip their tails up, and sleep there, not moving off the spot until daybreak. 

– DIET & FEEDING –

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What do they eat?
Toucans’ diets in the wild consist of mostly fruit. To provide balanced nutrition to a pet toucan, they require a combination of a formulated pellet diet and fresh fruit. My Three-Cans always have access to Mazuri ZuLife Low-Iron Softbill Diet pellets and are given two fresh bowls of fruit daily. You can read more about what I feed my Three-Cans in the following posts: Breakfast of Toucan Champions How to Be a Toucan ChefTo find a distributor of the pellets I feed, see the Resources page. 
What pellet diet do you feed?
We feed our Three-Cans Mazuri ZuLife Low-Iron Softbill Diet pellets, which is what most zoos and breeders feed their toucans as well. Toucans must have a specially formulated diet that is low in iron, due to their susceptibility to Hemochromatosis. As far as I know, there are only two other pellet options on the market that are suitable for toucans. Another option is Zupreem Low-Iron Softbill Diet pellets. We don’t feed these because they are too small and a challenge for our large Tocos to pick up with their beaks, though I imagine they might be a reasonable option for some of the smaller toucan species, such as aracaris or toucanets. The other low iron pellet option is the Red Apple pellet formula made by Scenic Birdfood. These pellets come in two sizes – “Jungle” and “Paradise“. We purchase the Red Apple Jungle pellets and use them as training treats, as our Three-Cans love them as much as they enjoy their Mazuri pellets. The “Jungle” pellets are too large to serve whole and could present a choking hazard, so we snap them in half. The “Paradise” pellets are much smaller and are a bit too tiny for our Tocos to pick up with their beaks though again, I imagine they might be a reasonable option for some of the smaller toucan species, such as aracaris or toucanets. To find a distributor for the pellets I feed, see the Resources page. 
How often per day do you feed your toucans?
Toucans do not have a crop like parrots do and therefore need constant access to food. They eat frequently throughout the day, sometimes as often as every 15 minutes. My Three-Cans always have access to a fresh bowl of their Mazuri pellets and are served a fresh bowl of fruit twice per day. When they first wake up at daybreak, they are given their first bowl of pellets. Then, after training, aviary cleaning, and toy refreshing, they are served their first bowl of fruit for the day, usually around 9am. Then, their fruit bowl is changed out with a fresh portion for the afternoon around 1pm. I remove both their fruit and pellet bowls just before they go to sleep at nightfall (when they are in their roosting spot, and will definitely not be eating anymore), so as not to attract pests. For more on our daily schedule, see this post, A Day in the Life
How do I know what foods are safe to feed toucans?
The main concern with feeding toucans is ensuring you provide foods that are low in iron, due to toucans’ susceptibility to Hemochromatosis. Besides a pellet diet specially formulated for toucans, you should mainly stick to feeding them solely low iron fruits. This also includes avoiding any citrus fruits, as citric acid actually aides the body in storing iron. This Aracari Feeding Guide is an excellent resource on selecting appropriate foods for toucans. 
How do toucans drink water?
Toucans’ long beaks make it necessary for them to have a wide, deep bowl to drink water out of. Toucans have been known to die of thirst in captivity because people failed to provide them with an appropriately-sized water bowl and they were unable to get their beaks in and get enough water. Toucans’ beaks are slightly inverted inside their lower mandible, so they dip their beaks into water, then lean their heads back to use gravity to help them get the water down their throats. Here’s a video to demonstrate: Paco the Toucan’s Satisfying Drink

– ENRICHMENT & TOYS –

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Why do they need toys when they don’t have toys in the wild?
True, toucans do not have access to toys (the kinds we buy in the pet store) in the wild, but that doesn’t mean that toys aren’t an essential part of their care in captivity. In the wild, a toucan would likely spend at least 80% of its time exploring and foraging for food. In captivity, by providing them with a bowl of food and a safe place to live, we’ve taken that responsibility off their plates and left them with a whole heap of time to account for. Toucans are incredibly high energy, intelligent animals. The purpose of toys is to prevent boredom (and by extension, behavioral issues) by stimulating their minds and focusing their attention on positive pursuits. When keeping them in captivity, it is our ethical responsibility to enrich their captive environment to the best of our abilities.
How do I know what size toys/toy pieces are safe for my toucan to play ith?
Toucans have a tendency to want to toss interesting items back down their throats and swallow them, which is why considering toy size is so important to toucan safety. Toucans play very differently than parrots do – they do not have as much dexterity in their beaks and feet and generally play by clacking and tossing things around in their beaks, and their beaks do not have the same tearing/shredding ability as parrots do. Each bird is an individual and will play slightly differently from another, even birds of the same species. For example, my female Paz has a tendency to want to swallow things more than the boys do, so she isn’t allowed certain toys even though they’re ones I’ve deemed safe enough for my two males to play with. Because of this, you should always supervise your bird first with any new toys before allowing him/her to have unsupervised access to them.  The Bag of Wonder game, which I have written about HERE and HERE, is a great way to do this. Whenever I get new toys for the Three-Cans, I first bring them into their aviaries as a part of this game. I watch how they play with the toy and how well the toy stands up to their play. If a toy has small pieces that can easily be broken off, it is not safe to be left in their aviaries unsupervised. The same goes if it is on the edge of too small – if it looks like it could potentially become a choking hazard as the bird is tossing it around in its beak, it’s too small to be left in the aviaries unsupervised. 
What kinds of toys do toucans like to play with?
Every toucan is an individual and will have its own preferences for what types of toys he/she finds intriguing. My Three-Cans are constantly changing their interests as well, excited about a toy for a week, then losing total interest in it for months. This post I wrote on Our Top Toucan Toy Stuffers gives a breakdown of the types of toys I give my Three-Cans (balls, paper shredders, wood blocks, etc.). In the end, it’s more about watching how your bird plays as an individual and providing safe options that they’re able to physically enjoy. 

– HOUSING –

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What is the appropriate-sized enclosure for a toucan?
Toucans are extremely high energy birds who require much more space than a parrot of similar size. Toucans move around a lot more, rarely sitting in one place for any length of time. Because of this, they need a lot of room to spread their wings, fly and hop about, and expend some of the copious amounts of energy they wake up with every morning. While some breeders will tell you that you can house a large toucan in a cage indoors – the sizes commonly used for large macaws – I believe this is not an appropriate size for a large toucan for any extended length of time. A cage this size does not allow the bird enough room to move about as toucans do and will lead to behavioral issues. No matter how much mental stimulation you provide by way of toys and other enrichment items, large toucans require large aviaries and should never be kept in smaller cages intended for parrots. 
What types of wood/rope should you use for toucan perches?
It is important to use a variety of materials/textures and perch sizes for toucans for several reasons. For one, a variety of diameters is important to foot health, so that their feet have multiple-sized perches (thin, thicker, braided, etc.) to grip. Providing a variety gives the bird the ability to choose what feels most comfortable to them at any given time, and also improves their strength and dexterity in their feet. Providing ropes and swings, in addition to solid wood perches, is also very important for toucans. Because toucans hop and fly from perch to perch, rather than slowly walking/climbing as parrots do, having perch options such as ropes and swings that have give and movement are essential to joint health. If a toucan is only provided with solid wood perches that do not have any slack/give, it will lead to joint and hip problems in the future from the constant strain of impact. Ropes and swings that move when the bird lands on them are also excellent for overall physical health and balance. We use this untreated, natural manila rope for our Three-Cans’ perches, in addition to natural branches. We have these swings for our Three-Cans and they love them (Paz, our female, even sleeps on hers every night!). Please be advised that concrete, sandpaper, and other rough-surfaced perches that are marketed to keep nails rounded/trimmed are not suitable for toucans. Toucan nails are a bit softer than parrot nails and file down much more quickly. Also, because of the impact on landing from hopping and flying, these rough-surfaced perches can injure the bottoms of their feet. Here is a list of natural woods that are considered non-toxic and safe to use as perches for pet birds.

How do you keep rats and other pests out of your aviaries?
In many ways, pests are just a part of outdoor aviaries and have to be tolerated/accepted to some degree. It’s the Great Outdoors – there will be bugs. That being said, we do try our best to keep the bugs at bay as much as we can. The Three-Can’s aviaries are located on the hillside so the main bugs we deal with are cockroaches, ants, and spiders. The flying insects, such as mosquitoes and flies, don’t seem to bother the birds at all. We hose the aviary walls and ceilings each day with fresh water, mostly because the spiders around here are very industrious and if we didn’t, the aviary walls would quickly become one giant spider web. The cockroaches don’t seem to bother the birds and don’t really come out in the daylight hours anyway when it would be a bother to us humans. The aviaries have natural dirt floors, which we rake each day to avoid attracting pests to any exposed droppings. The main pests – rats, cockroaches, and ants come out at night to feed, so we simply remove the Three-Can’s food bowls at nightfall when they’re about to go to sleep for the night. The Three-Cans never eat, let alone move, while it’s dark out and this ensures we aren’t attracting pests by providing a food source. We simply bring fresh food bowls out first thing in the morning at daybreak when the Three-Cans wake up and are ready to eat. This keeps pests from eating and potentially contaminating their food throughout the night. During the daytime, when the birds are awake, they don’t let anything except ants near their food anyway.As for rats, we try and keep the population surrounding our house down. We generally don’t see rats around because we do not leave food out. But if we start seeing some, we trap them to ensure the population doesn’t explode. I have heard from friends that rats have attacked some of the smaller species of toucans living in outdoor aviaries, but this really isn’t a concern for us – our Tocos are big birds, the rats we’ve seen around here are pretty small, and I don’t imagine the rats would approach a larger animal, nor would the toucans allow them to get close to them.Thankfully, we do not have any poisonous snakes or spiders on the island we live, so that is not a concern for us. The only species of snake that lives around here is very small in size and not a threat to the Three-Cans.We don’t have many other predators such as opossums, owls, etc. that we need to concern ourselves with and thus, I cannot offer advice on how to construct your aviary to protect against these threats.We do experience ant infestations from time to time, which can be the most frustrating of pests to deal with, as they swarm the food bowls. For this, we have found that ant bait stations, placed OUTSIDE the aviaries out of reach of the birds, tend to work best, since we cannot use any pesticides around the aviaries. Diatomaceous Earth is safe to use around the birds, though it is not quite as effective, since it only works if it stays dry – something near impossible to achieve outside, especially since we have to hose down the aviaries every morning.
Where did you buy your aviaries?
We purchased our current aviaries from Cages by Design. We have two of the 10ft x 12ft Suncatcher outdoor flight aviaries with safety catches (one each for Paz and Paco) and one of the 6ft x 8ft Suncatcher outdoor aviaries for Pepe, which we altered with a half-floor to accommodate his handicapOverall, I am very disappointed in the lack of quality and craftsmanship of the aviaries, as well as the untimely, apathetic, and unhelpful service provided by the company. Because of this, I do not recommend these aviaries, or this company, to others. The first aviaries we had for the Three-Cans were designed and built by us. When we moved houses, we decided to purchase the Cages by Design aviaries, assuming they would be more transportable in the future if we moved again, as they are comprised of individual panels which you must assemble yourself. But due to the low quality of these aviaries, not only were they extremely difficult to assemble (nowhere near “snap together” as advertised; it took a crew of five contractors four days to put together our “custom made” aviaries), but they also began rusting through with the cheap powder-coating peeling off in under a year of owning them. When it comes to effort, quality, and affordability, we will always be building our own aviaries from here on out in the future. Because toucans do not chew through wood or metal like parrots do, the powder coating of the metal is not as necessary and you can easily design large aviaries for toucans on your own or with a contractor.

– TRAINING –

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How can I bond with my toucan and teach him/her to trust me?
Beginning a force-free, positive reinforcement training program with your toucan is the best way to begin a trusting relationship. By learning and listening to your toucan’s body language, respecting his space, and interacting with him on HIS terms – not forcing yourself and your agenda upon him – you can begin to teach your bird that he can trust you and encourage him to desire more interactions with you. Starting slowly by teaching behaviors such as target training and stationing are a great place to begin. Behavior Works is a fantastic resource for information on proper training techniques and theory.Before beginning training however, it is important to note how much the proper environment/setting is to your future training success. If you have a toucan who is in an inappropriately sized enclosure (ie. too small) where he does not feel as though he can “escape” you if he desires, your training progress will be limited. The same is true if you attempt to train your bird in a space in which he does not feel safe and secure. If your bird is focused more on his basic survival, he will not be able to be receptive to training.The same is true for wing-clipping. A toucan with clipped wings is significantly limited in his mobility, which can create feelings of insecurity due to a lack of confidence in being able to get away from you or any potential, perceived danger, so to speak.
What do you use for training treats?
Toucans are a bit more limited in what you can use for training treats in comparison to parrots. Generally, when training, you want to use a reinforcer that is of the highest value to your learner. In my experience, when it comes to food reinforcers, most toucans usually tend to place the highest value on papaya, blueberries, and grapes. Papaya is too mushy and therefore, too messy to successfully use as a training treat. I use a combination of grapes, blueberries, and Red Apple Jungle pellets as food reinforcers, though my Three-Cans all have slightly different preferences when it comes to their treat of choice. Paco loves blueberries best, but will also enjoy Red Apple Jungle pellets as a close second, and usually doesn’t ever like grapes. Pepe prefers the Red Apple Jungle pellets over fruit anytime, though he will accept some grapes or blueberries depending on his mood. Paz will do anything for both blueberries and grapes.Birds can be notoriously picky, so always try every available option you can until you find the right one. For example, my Three-Cans prefer their grapes either whole or cut in halves. If I can only find really large grapes and they have to be cut in fourths, they are much less appealing to them. They also prefer black seedless grapes over the red ones, and will never accept green grapes as treats. As for blueberries, they won’t eat them if they’re too small or too mushy.
Can you put toucans on a “training diet”?
Many people hear about the concept of a “training diet” from popular bird training programs. Essentially, the idea is to monitor and restrict your bird’s access to food at certain times of the day to increase its motivation (in this case, hunger) to be more receptive to training and working for food rewards. This can be dangerous for parrots even, if not done correctly and under the guidance of a professional, but should never be attempted with a toucan. Toucans do not have a crop like parrots do and do not have a store of food available to them. They have incredibly fast metabolisms and should always have access to food.Just because you’re unable to put a toucan on a “training diet” doesn’t mean they have less motivation for training though. If you find the right training treats that excite your toucan and reserve them for training alone (ie. you don’t ever serve them in his bowl with his meals), and work within his schedule to conduct training when he is likely to be the most receptive to it, you should still be able to train your toucan without any dietary restrictions.For more information on weight management in animal training, check out this article and this video which explains it all well by Barbara Heidenreich of Good Bird Inc.
Are your toucans “potty trained”? Is it even possible to “potty train” a toucan?
No, none of my toucans are “potty-trained” (meaning, they are not trained to relieve themselves at specific times and/or in specific places). My toucans live outdoors in large aviaries year round that I hose down daily, which makes cleaning up their droppings (and therefore, potty-training) a non-issue.However, you may have seen pictures of one of my cans, Paco, inside the house. People often ask me this question upon seeing Paco playing on my bed, my couch, and other areas you wouldn’t want a toucan to relieve himself. But no, I have not made it a priority to potty-train Paco. When Paco comes inside the house to play, it is only for stretches of a couple of hours at a time, and he requires constant supervision while flying around the house anyway, which makes it easy for me to catch him relieving himself as it happens. For one, I do not feed him blueberries while he is inside the house (they stain when they come out the other end!) which makes his droppings less potentially damaging. He also has a perch stand that he considers his “home base” when he’s inside the house and tends to relieve himself there naturally, where he is most comfortable, so I put towels under the perch stand for easy clean-up. For all the other random times he relieves himself when he’s not on his perch stand, I just wipe it up immediately afterwards (I always have paper towels handy). As for him playing on the bed, couch, etc – because I am constantly supervising him, I can usually tell when he hasn’t relieved himself in awhile and it might be time, so I just redirect him off of the place I don’t want him to go to the bathroom until he relieves himself elsewhere and is invited back.While I’m sure it may be possible to “potty-train” a toucan, it just isn’t a priority for me. Because toucans have such fast metabolisms (they do not have a crop like parrots do), they eat frequently and thus relieve themselves frequently. In order to “potty-train” them with any consistency, it would require extreme vigilance and commitment on the trainer’s end. To me, I am able to manage Paco’s droppings when he does come indoors in a way that is effective for me, and therefore, I choose to spend my training energy on other behaviors that are more important to me.

– TOUCANS AS PETS –

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I want a toucan! Do toucans make great pets?
No, I do not recommend the larger species of toucans, such as my Tocos, Keel-billeds, Swainson’s, etc., as pets for many reasons. They are very difficult to care for properly and are not a good fit for most homes. It is important to remember that toucans are NOT domesticated animals like dogs and cats. Even if purchased as “handfed” babies from a breeder, they are still very much wild animals who require specific care and will not simply adapt to your life and family as a domesticated animal would.Please see the Toucans as Pets page for more details.
Do you sell toucans?
No, I am not a breeder and my toucans are not sale.It should also be noted that I do not believe that breeding birds for the purpose of selling them as pets to live in captivity is an ethical practice. I would never buy a bird from a breeder and hate seeing these incredible creatures in captivity. If you truly wish to bring a bird into your life, I encourage you to not perpetuate the breeding of exotic species as pets and adopt a bird in need of a new home. Please – adopt, don’t shop!
Do you know any toucan breeders?
Because I have not personally worked with any breeders (we adopted our three Toco toucans and did not purchase them from a breeder), I cannot recommend any from my own experience.
What species of toucan is right for me?
As mentioned above, I do not recommend the larger species of toucans a pets. The smaller species, such as aracaris and toucanets, can make slightly more acceptable pets for some households, though most of the reasons I don’t recommend the larger species as pets apply as well to aracaris and toucanets. The most significant difference in the smaller species is that they require slightly less space and being group nesters by nature, can potentially adapt better to a household with multiple humans.For more details, check out the article, Large vs Small Toucans as Pets.
Should I get a pair of toucans to keep each other company?
While it is a nice idea in theory – a pair of toucans would provide each other with companionship within their own species – this decision is much more complicated than that.For one, unless you are getting a bonded pair, there is a high chance that your two birds may not get along and could potentially need to be housed separately for safety. In our case, for example, we adopted our two males and one female, hoping that they could eventually live with one another, or at least have two of them as a pair. We have tried to socialize our female with both of our males and it nearly ended in death for both of the males. It was extremely stressful and not something I would ever want to go through again. And it is disappointing that all three of our toucans have to live separately from one another.Another factor to consider is breeding. Breeding birds, in general, is a very delicate process that requires professional knowledge, experience, and attention. With toucans (birds we humans still know so little about), it is even more so. Being an average bird owner who is inexperienced when it comes to breeding, you will be confronted with many difficult situations that you are in no way prepared for. The health of your female could be at stake. And what happens if your birds do successfully have offspring? Are you prepared to keep them and be responsible for their lives as well? Do you have the space if your birds happen to keep having babies? A pair of birds may breed. If you get a pair of birds, I would consider this fact deeply.Lastly, if what you’re looking for is a pet bird that you can interact and “play” with, being able to do so with a pair is much more difficult than with an individual bird. With a pair, there is an entirely separate-from-you underlying dynamic between the two of them that you are essentially interrupting. For example, a courtship behavior among toucans is for the courting bird to give the other something of value (usually food) and then pass it repeatedly from beak to beak. You coming into the pair’s aviary and offering the female a treat can often pose a threat to the male, who sees you as trying to interlope on their courtship. This can lead to aggressive behavior from the male, directed at both you and the female – all because you simply offered a treat. Training two birds at one time is very difficult as well, which is something that will impede your ability to have individual relationships with each bird. In general, a pair of birds will be more independent and be more interested in interacting with one another than with you. It is wonderful for them to be able to have this relationship if they have to live their lives in captivity, but it is important to understand going into it that your experience with a pair will be very different than your experience with an individual bird.It is a tough decision whether to get a pair of birds or not, there are a lot of factors to consider, and no “perfect” situation. I do not know what is the absolute best decision besides the simple the belief that I don’t think toucans should be bought as pets to begin with – either single birds or as pairs.
I have parrots and am well aware of the responsibility of pet birds. Isn’t having a toucan just like having a parrot?
While it sounds like it is in theory, toucans are very different as pets in comparison to keeping parrots. There are a couple of main differences:For one, toucans require much more space than a parrot of comparable size. A large cage that is considered acceptable for a macaw is way too small for most toucans due to how much toucans need to move around. For example, an extra large cage that’s made to house the largest of parrots – Hyacinth macaws – would be completely unacceptable and far too small for the largest of toucans – Tocos – even though they are actually smaller birds than Hyacinths.Secondly, toucans are much more high energy birds than parrots are. They need the ability to fly and hop around to expend their energy. Because of the way they move, clipping their wings is NOT an appropriate option and can lead to injury. No matter how interesting a toy is, toucans have a short attention span and will not sit on a perch and chew at something for long stretches of time like a parrot will. They require a lot more effort to entertain and supervise.Thirdly, preparing toucan food is a bit more expensive and labor intensive than it is for a parrot. Generally, you cannot find their specially formulated low-iron pellet diet just anywhere – most everyone has to ship it in. Toucans also require a fresh bowl of fruit served to them twice a day. You can’t just make them one bowl and leave it out for the day, as fruit spoils quickly. With parrots, though it is still a lot of work to prepare a healthy diet, you can make things like “chop” in bulk and freeze it so you don’t have to cut up fresh vegetables, etc every day. Not so with toucans. Because their main diet consists of fruit, you have to chop it fresh every morning, or it spoils and turns to mush. Toucans like their fruit fresh and won’t settle for frozen, mushy fruit.Lastly, toucans are not really suited to be a part of a multiple bird household. Most toucans can be very territorial and difficult to socialize with other humans, let alone other birds. Additionally, because toucans have such long beaks, it is not safe for them to interact with parrots, as they can reach them with their beaks if they want to be aggressive and attack from a greater distance than a parrot can defend itself with their much shorter beak and feet.For more insights on this from people who have kept both parrots and toucans as pets and know from experience, check out this article: Toucans vs Parrots as Pets: A Candid Interview
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