Basic care

Toucans as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: August 31, 2020
Toucans as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

Toucans can make excellent pets. Not only are they beautiful and smart, but they are also very playful and affectionate animals. If you're looking for a unique and exotic companion pet, the toucan may be for you!

In this AnimalWised article, we're going to tell you everything you need to know about having a toucan as a pet. We'll go through if it's legal, the estimated price range, diet, health care, etc. Keep reading to learn more!

You may also be interested in: Kiwis as Pets: General Guidelines and Tips
  1. Is it legal to have a pet toucan?
  2. How much does a pet toucan cost?
  3. Life expectancy of toucans
  4. How to care for a pet toucan
  5. Is the toucan the right pet for you?

Is it legal to have a pet toucan?

Having a pet toucan is not legal everywhere. In some countries, their sale is strictly prohibited, and possession of these animals in captivity, even for breeding, is illegal. In those cases, the only way to respect the law and still enjoy the company of these wonderful birds would be to have a zoological certificate which respects the necessary codes.

In some states of the U.S. it is indeed possible to keep a toucan as a pet as long as you have the proper license. However, a bird with these features should be able to enjoy the wild or, at the very least, reside in a very practical and ideal habitat with appropriate care.

Toucans as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Is it legal to have a pet toucan?

How much does a pet toucan cost?

Toucans are very expensive pets. Buying one in the U.S. will cost you around $10,000 from a breeder. Keep in mind that before purchasing a toucan, you will need to find out if it's legal in your state and then file for a permit.

Not only are they expensive to purchase, but they are also very expensive to maintain as they need fresh and exotic fruit. Cheap canned fruits simply won't cut it. A specialised bird veterinarian will also be necessary.

Life expectancy of toucans

As is common among wild animals, a toucan's life expectancy is usually extended when living in captivity if it has proper care. We are talking about birds that can live between 15 and 20 years, which means a great deal of time for ongoing care and expense. If you want to keep a toucan as a pet, this is something that you must keep in mind before making any decisions.

Even taking into account all the time that the toucan may live, it's also important to understand that a toucan requires very specific care, and that kind of care isn't something that everyone can provide. Do your research and ask around.

Toucans as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Life expectancy of toucans

How to care for a pet toucan

The toucan must be offered a temperature between 18° C and 28° C (64º F to 82º F) and a high relative humidity level, at 60 to 85%. This is because toucans are tropical birds, and they need to be kept in the closest manner to their native conditions.

Toucans are mostly vegetarian, but they do need some animal protein in their diet, which in their natural habitat is derived from insects, small lizards, nestlings and some rodents. The basis of their diet is fruit, followed by vegetables. This is because toucans have a very small stomach where food remains for very little time, so they need to eat very hydrating food like fruit. Among the most desirable fruits for toucans we can find:

  • Banana
  • Papaya
  • Apple (seedless)
  • Pear
  • Melon
  • Mango

You can feed a tame toucan soft "meatballs"; they should be 2 or 3 centimeters (1 inch) in diameter, made with boiled rice, carrots, cucumber and potato, to compliment the toucan's fruit-based diet. These little supplements should include, occasionally, a bit of ground beef to balance their diet and make it somewhat similar to that of a toucan out in the wild. Toucans should have clean water at all times.

When we talk about animals that spend much of their time in a confined space, such as in a birdhouse or an aviary, it is worth remembering that there are no cages that are too big, but there are many that are too small.

Desirable minimum dimensions for an aviary for a pair of toucans are 4 m (high) x 3 m (wide) x 3 m (deep), that is, 13 x 10 x 10 feet. A toucan cage must have perches or crossing sticks if there isn't a nice hollow log for your feathered friend. However, do remember that these measures are minimal and that a toucan needs to exercise on a very regular basis, even when kept as a pet.

The hygiene and cleaning of a toucan's aviary must be very meticulous in order to avoid diseases, but it must not be carried out with ordinary household cleaning products. Use cleaners that are not harmful to our feathered friends. Toucans can be attacked by parasites; in that case it will be necessary to consult with an exotic animal veterinarian on which product is best suited to help these birds.

Toucans as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - How to care for a pet toucan

Is the toucan the right pet for you?

So, is the toucan the right pet for you? Just to re-cap, you will need to be absolutely sure you have the money, time and will to buy and care for a toucan. Remember that these animals are exotic and require different things to other birds. They are also very expensive to buy and care for. You will need a permit if it's legal in your state. These animals live for up to 20 years, so adopting them will be a long-term commitment.

Keeping toucans as pets is very difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Here at AnimalWised we do not recommend it unless you are absolutely sure you have the resources and will to do it.

Check out out our articles to learn the benefits of keeping birds and tips on how to photograph birds.

If you want to read similar articles to Toucans as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

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Ed Cavuto
Enjoyable article. I visit an exotic animals shop every week, and there is a single toucan there, name of Tiki. LOL For many weeks he's tried to bite my fingers, but this week he strangely let me scratch various plumes of his with no hostility! He also tried to sit on my finger.
Administrador AnimalWised
It looks like you're bonding, Ed!
Love the article! Are toucans legal in Maryland? But the problem is I don’t know of any animal services near me that would know, and I live in Arnold.
Lila's Mom
search it up on google
logan dalton
Are Toucans legal in Georgia?
Annette Yaba
Are toucans legal in Virginia
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi, before you can bring in wild or exotic birds, you will have to contact with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. They will advise on a case by case basis.
Great article; thank you.
Administrador AnimalWised
You are very welcome!
are toucans legal in oregon? like with a permit or something?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Dane,

While there has been relatively recent legislation denying new permits to certain animals such as lions, bears and apes, we can't find much specifically to do with toucans or other exotic birds. You will have to contact your local animal services directly.
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Toucans as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips