Toco Toucan – Interesting Facts | Habitat | Diet and Complete Species Guide

Toco toucans are the most commonly seen and found toucans in general. These beautiful birds are also the largest in size out of all the species of toucans currently existing in the world.

Not only are Toco toucans easily identifiable, but they are also very memorable because of their unique appearance. These toucans are easily distinguishable because of their physical attributes, as well as their distinct habitat needs.

How to identify a Toco toucan?

The following traits make Toco toucans easy to identify:

  1. Their beak or bill

Toco toucans have a bright yellowish-orange colored beak that makes up around one-third of their entire body size. While the whole body of a toco toucan is measured at around an average of 25 inches, its bill alone makes up almost 8 inches of it.

Also, there is a patch of black color toward the edge of their bills. They also have a patch of red feathers toward the start of their tails.

  1. Rings around their eyes

Toco toucans have some skin around their eyes which is usually blue in color. This gives it the appearance of an eye ring. 

  1. Color of their feathers and tail

The majority of a Toco toucan’s body is covered with black-colored feathers, except for patches of white-colored feathers around its neck and at the beginning of its tail. 

  1. Their feet and toes

Toco toucans have four featherless toes on their feet. Two of these toes face forward, while the other two faces backward. This allows the Toco toucans to have an excellent grip on most types of tree branches. 

  1. Their size

Toco toucans are known as the largest species of toucans in the world. This is not just because of the length of their bodies, but also because they weigh higher than other toucans at around 625 grams on average. Some Toco toucans can also weigh higher than that.

History and origin of Toco toucans

The scientific name of Toco toucans

The scientific name of Toco toucans is Ramphastos Toco. 

Subspecies of Toco toucans

There are two recognized biological subspecies of Toco toucans:

1. R. T. Toco (or Ramphastos Toco Toco)

This subspecies was discovered by a German zoologist named Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller around 1776.

These Toco toucans are usually found in the Guianas and some parts of Brazil and Peru.

2. R. T. Albogularis (or Ramphastos Toco Albogularis)

This subspecies was discovered by a German ornithologist named Jean Louis Cabanis around 1862. 

These toucans are found in some parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina.

Where do Toco Toucans come from?

Toco toucans are known to be native to South America’s tropical forests. They are most commonly found in northern and eastern parts of Bolivia, south-eastern parts of Peru, northern Argentina, central and eastern parts of Paraguay, and some parts of eastern and southern Brazil.

Habitat of a Toco toucan

While the majority of Toco toucans were discovered in tropical forests, these toucans prefer more space than a typical rainforest can provide. They are usually found in grasslands, savannahs, and even shrublands. 

They tend to live in areas that provide them with a lot more space to roam around freely.

What makes the habitat of a Toco toucan different from the rest of the toucans?

While other toucans tend to live in rainforests and suffer at the hands of deforestation, Toco toucans are not affected by deforestation as they generally prefer to live in wide and open areas.

Where do Toco toucans make their nests?

Toco toucans make their nests in the hollows of trees. While their choice of habitat differs from other toucans, their nesting requirements are the same as the rest of them.

Do Toco toucans migrate?

Toco toucans are not known to migrate. They do stay in groups and often roam around together, but they tend to live in the same place they were raised in.

How long do Toco toucans live?

Toco toucans are known to be able to live for up to 20 years. Even when kept in captivity, the average lifespan range of a Toco toucan is between 12 and 20 years. However, when left in the wild, they can also live for up to 25 years.

Behavioral characteristics of a Toco toucan

  • The personality of a Toco Toucan

Personality-wise, Toco toucans are fairly gentle birds. They are intelligent and considered easy to train as well. They can be trained to return to their aviaries as well.

They do get easily scared of unknown companies, but once they have been acquainted well, they can warm up to their owners with ease in time. They are also considered to be playful birds. 

  • Can Toco toucans be kept with other birds?

Toco toucans have good compatibility with other toucans. However, one must always be careful before keeping them in the same aviary with birds of other species, especially if they were not raised together.

While Toco toucans can gel well with other birds, it is important to note that they can act aggressively if they feel unsafe around them. 

What sounds does a Toco toucan make?

The calls of a Toco toucan sound a lot similar to grunts and snores that humans tend to make. However, their calls are much deeper and can also get a lot louder. 

Some people even compare their calls to a mixture of growling and croaking. 

It should also be noted that Toco toucans that are kept in captivity tend to not be as loud as the ones that roam freely in the wild.

How can one identify the gender of a Toco toucan?

Both male and female members of the Toco toucan species look alike.

It is almost impossible to know the gender of a Toco toucan by simply keeping their appearance in mind. 

It is said that male Toco toucans have slightly slimmer and longer bills than female Toco toucans, but only an avian gender test can reveal the true gender of a particular Toco toucan. 

Can Toco toucans fly?

Toco toucans are not known to be good flyers. They generally prefer to travel on foot. However, they are perfectly capable of flying from one branch of a tree to the other, and from the ground to a tree’s branch.

This can be justified because they are mostly seen perching on branches of different trees or hopping from one place to another, instead of flying.

  • How much distance can a Toco toucan cover in a single flight?

Toco toucans can only fly short distances. Even when they take a longer flight, it is usually less than a hundred meters in distance.

What are Toco toucans good for?

Toco toucans can be used for the reasons mentioned below:

AppearanceToco toucans are incredibly well known because of their unique appearance. This makes them quite useful for the purpose of exhibitions.
IntelligenceIt is easier to train Toco toucans to learn new tricks because of their high intelligence. This makes them really valuable at bird shows and competitions.
PersonalityBecause Toco toucans tend to be friendly and loving, they are often much desired as pets.

What do Toco toucans eat?

Toco toucans are known to be omnivores, which means that they eat fruits, vegetables, and meat equally well. 

Following are some of the foods that are most preferred by them:

Vegetarian food preferences:

Toco toucans tend to eat fruits the most, especially guavas, figs, dragonfruit, pears, berries, and more. Their toes are able to tear the fruit apart easily and their long tongues make it easier for them to swallow.

Meat preferences:

Toco toucans are also known to eat small birds, lizards, worms, and also eggs.

  • A necessary precaution:

Toco toucans can be prone to developing hemochromatosis, which is a condition where the body absorbs too much iron from the food. This should be kept in mind while feeding Toco toucans.

Breeding facts and patterns of Toco toucans

The following points elaborate on the breeding patterns of Toco toucans:

  1. Toco toucans are known to be monogamous. This means that when they mate, they mate for life.
  2. They usually breed once a year, and the breeding season usually begins toward the end of winter and continues during the spring season.
  3. They build their nests in the hollows of trees where the female lays around 2 to 4, or 5 eggs in their nest. 
  4. The parents are known to create a bigger hole in their nests before breeding. 
  5. The incubation period goes on for 17-18 days. Both the parents are known to incubate the eggs. 
  6. Both the parents are equally involved in taking care of the chick. 
  7. Both the genders reach reproductive maturity at the age of around 3 to 4 years. 
  8. Both the mates are known to clean each other often.

Are Toco toucans endangered?

Toco toucans are not endangered. However, even though they have been kept under the category of ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN global Red List of Threatened species, their total population is decreasing. 

Who or what are the predators of Toco toucans?

The predators of Toco toucans include wild animals and birds like eagles, hawks, owls, snakes, jaguars, boas, and more.

Moreover, they are also being exploited by humans for the following reasons:

  1. Poaching and hunting for their meat.
  2. Keeping them captive for sale.
  3. Poor treatment of Toco toucans kept in captivity.


While the largest toucans on the planet are totally capable of taking care of themselves, the Toco toucans need to be provided with enough space to be able to do so. Less human intervention in their lives can probably do more wonders than trying to keep them captive.

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