Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Basic Introduction to Toucans, Toucanets and Aracaris

When I was young, growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, I remember often visiting Meadowlark Mall, yes it was a thriving mall in those days, before West Edmonton Mall was developed. Anyhow, there was a department store in the mall, Zellers, and in the back left corner was their pet section. For the longest time I remember they had a Toucan for sale.

The toucan sat in a small cage, not much bigger than the cages we now see finches in. It was a beautiful bird. This was almost 40 years ago. I do not know if that bird ever sold, or what became of it. At some time Zellers stopped selling pets (yeah!), and eventually the mall itself changed. Today I was reminded of that bird when answering a question on WebAnswers about Toucans.

As Toucans, and their smaller relatives, the Toucanets, are favorite birds of my husband I was inspired to write about them and learn more about them than I had in the past.

©Art work by my husband, Mark Gordon Brown - Emerald Toucanet.

Toucans, toucanets, and a smaller relative the aracaris, are softbills, birds that use their bills for eating soft fruit and berries. They will also eat insects, small lizards, and in the wild have been know to eat eggs and baby birds of other species.  The term "soft-bill" refers to their diet of soft foods.

As pets they have some advantages over parrots although they may be considerably harder to find in stores.

Toucans are generally quieter than parrots.

Toucans do not have the ability to bite as hard as a parrot.

Because they eat fruit and berries, toucans are less messy than parrots who eat nuts and seeds.

© Art work by Brenda Nelson Keel-billed Toucan

The biggest disadvantage is that toucans really need proper flying space, so they need larger cages (tell that to the people who housed the toucan at the mall department store earlier mentioned). Where as a parrot can sit on top of its cage and play with toys, toucans really thrive when they can stretch their wings and fly.

Toucans are not as common as pets as parrots, even now I seldom see them in pet stores. Of course if you were looking to buy one I would not suggest a pet store anyhow, but would recommend you look for a proper breeder or avian enthusiast.

I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit about toucans, toucanets, and aracaris.  If you wish to learn more about them as exotic pets please read:  Information on Toucans and Toucanets as Pets


  1. I do can see that toucan is almost the same as parrot physically. Despite of its needs in larger cage toucans do have bright beautiful colors. Thanks for sharing this great information. Can't wait to read the other post :)

  2. I didn't even know "Toucanets" even existed till now, you learn something every day!
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  3. I too didn't know a thing about toucanets until now. I've always thought that toucans were brilliant looking. Does anyone remember "Toucan Sam"?

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  4. Toucans and birds are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. this animal is so amazing, i have seen many of it here where I am living.

  6. it was a pleasure to read this article, thank you.

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