Toucans as Pets: Top 5 Considerations
Ok, I know you saw those super cute toucans bouncing around and acting all cute on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube and now you want one! I mean how can you resist the super cute Two Toucanets, Prince, Touki, 2Can TV, and of course my sweet girl, Bella!
Many people will argue that having a toucan as a pet is NOT a good idea at all! While I can totally see why they would say that, I disagree with the statement as a whole.
My personal feelings are that getting a toucan, for the right family, with the correct amount of education and research, time and devotion, and commitment can be an amazing journey of love and companionship! Having a toucan IS NOT for everyone and there are serious considerations that I will outline here:
1.Cost – Having a toucan is a costly commitment
Toucans are not cheap to purchase but the cost goes far beyond the initial cost. Toucans require fresh fruit daily, and as many of you know fruit is not cheap! It goes bad fast and it is perishable. Depending on the size of the toucan you get will depend on how much they eat during a day. Obviously, the bigger the toucan the bigger the mouth or beak to feed!
Toucans are diurnal – so they go to sleep and wake with the sun. They are active during the daytime hours. So, this means that they will eat a lot more in the summer months than at other times of the year. So this is another thing to keep in mind if you get a toucan.
First, before you consider getting a toucan you really need to consider looking into a good avian exotic veterinarian. It is preferable that the vet be Board Certified but not necessary. There are many great avian vets out there that aren’t board certified. However, having access to an avian veterinarian is critical.
You will need to take your toucan for annual visits. These visits at a minimum usually involve a physical exam, review of diet and husbandry, bloodwork, and fecal smears. Your vet may also do a nail trim if you request one.
At the minimum, this will be a yearly cost. However, you also need to be prepared for accidents and illnesses. As you may imagine, this could get costly real quick.
I recommend having pet insurance. I have Nationwide Pet Insurance for my Curl Crested Aracari and it is well worth the cost of the premium. It gives me peace of mind knowing that in the event of an accident or illness I wouldn’t have to think about money but rather the heath of my baby. Having good pet insurance like Nationwide can pay between 70-90% of costs. Bloodwork, X-rays, cat scans, can add up quickly and you need to consider if you don’t have coverage do you have the money to treat your injured or sick bird?
Toucans need lots of space. After all, you are taking a bird that flies freely in the jungle to a home! The bigger the toucan the more space they need.
As you may imagine the cost of enclosures can be costly, especially if they are stainless steel or custom made. You should consider getting the biggest size you can afford that is appropriate for the size of toucan you have. If you are getting a larger toucan, make sure there is more vertical room than horizontal.A large parrot cage would not be suitable for a large toucan as they can hurt themselves and damage their beak.
Before getting a toucan you need to consider the amount of time they need and require. Many of the smaller toucans are very social and want to spend as much time with their owners as possible. Most toucans love to play and fly about the house poking for fun things to play with.
You need to be prepared for the amount of time it takes to prepare their food daily. As mentioned earlier, toucans require fresh fruit daily. That means chopping, peeling, cleaning, and cutting food every morning! Now there are some shortcuts you can take however, food prep still requires a considerable amount of time.
My favorite thing to do….cleaning cages!! Ok, I hope you realized that WAS a joke!! It is honestly the thing I like the least about having a toucan. However, it is a necessary part of having a toucan in your life!
I think Bella enjoys cage cleaning much more than I do! We make the most of it!
Again, depending on the size of your toucan and cage will depend on the amount of time it takes to clean its enclosure. Did I mention that this usually also often involves cleaning the walls, floors, and furniture surrounding their cage? Oops…yes it is true. Toucans can be a bit messy! You would be surprised to see how far fig or watermelon juice can travel! It never ceases to amaze me sometimes! Seriously though, time devoted to cleaning the cage is a necessary evil that comes along with a toucan. It is imperative to keep a clean cage to prevent any diseases from developing.
3.Do Your Research
While toucans as pets have been around for decades they are increasing in popularity due to social media. The main reason I wrote this blog is that there is VERY limited information out there about the care and needs of companion toucans.
While there is more information now than ever before the truth is that information in general and research about the care of toucans is largely lacking.
Here are a couple of great places to start if you are seriously looking into getting a toucan as a pet:
- Toucans, Toucanets, and Aracaris, Facebook page. This page is run by Jerry Jennings, he was the first person to breed toucans in captivity in the United States. He is affectionately known as “Mr. 2Can”
- Emerald Forest Bird Gardens website – This is Jerry Jenning’s website that has a lot of educational information related to toucans as pets.
- Adventures in Toucanland – this was a blog that I loved so much started by Chrisann Nickels. She writes about her experience with her three Toco toucans but also talks about many issues related to toucans of all species. She did a feature on our Emerald Toucanet, Yoshi, many, many years ago.
Do you like to travel? If so, you will need to consider who will take care of your toucan while you are away. I have heard some horror stories about owners going away on vacation and having some horrible consequences, even death, as a result of leaving their toucan with an uneducated pet sitter.
So, it is important to consider, who will watch your baby if you go away? A pet sitter, friend, family, vet? Just make sure it is someone you trust!! Many people don’t have trouble finding someone that they can trust, however, it is a consideration if you like to travel.
Maybe you want to take your toucan with you on your vacation. Things to consider:
- What airline? Many airlines do not allow birds in the cabin area
- Traveling by car – can your toucan handle traveling in a crate?
- Mine personally, after months and months of training, still dislikes car rides and her crate. She will tolerate it, barely. Going to a vet visit is very stressful so a long car ride can be even more so.
- Some toucans love to travel in the car – all toucans are different, you just never know until they get home which yours will be
Many toucan owners have successfully traveled with no worries, however, it is a big consideration when you are thinking about getting a toucan. Be proactive, before you get one if you like to travel. Again, do your research!!
Do you have other pets or birds? Don’t necessarily expect that your toucan will mix well with your other animals. A friend of mine told me once; “plan for the worst and hope for the best!” You may not be able to let your toucan out and around other animals or birds. It is a possibility that they may not get along! While many families have had success with incorporating toucans into their flock or with their other animals, there is NO guarantee! Again, just a consideration. There is nothing worse than having to re-home a toucan because it just didn’t work out with the other animals in the house. Be prepared with a plan in case that is the scenario! But, hope for the best!
If you ask me toucans are amazing, and I wouldn’t want to live my life without them! However, if you are serious about getting one PLEASE, PLEASE do your research! Many toucan owners on social media are willing to answer questions via Direct Message. Many are very willing to share their knowledge with others.
With the proper research, commitment, and dedication you “toucan” do it!!