What Do Toucans Eat in the Wild and as Pets?

Toucans make fantastic pets, and they are well known for their large and colorful beaks. They rarely bite, and if they do, it won’t injure you, and they have a long lifespan, with many birds living more than 25 years. However, Toucans are quite rare in the United States, so new owners can have many questions that can be difficult to find answers to, and one of the ones we get most often is what do these colorful birds eat. If you are considering purchasing one of these colorful birds for your home but would like to know more about what you feed it, keep reading while we discuss what Toucans eat in the wild and captivity so you can make an informed decision.

divider-birdsWhat Is a Toucan?

Toucans are colorful birds with large, long beaks that will also have bright colors. Several species of Toucan range in size from 11 inches to more than 25-inches tall. The bill is usually longer than half its body length but remains extremely light. It helps the Toucan regulate its body temperature more efficiently and allows them to reach deep into tree holes to get food out of reach of other birds. The bill might also help them look more intimidating to other birds. Toucans can touch their head with their tail which is how they sleep, appearing as a ball of feathers.

What Does A Wild Toucan Eat?

Toucans are frugivores, which means they primarily eat fruit and some vegetables. They will usually eat whatever kind of fruit they can find, which means their diet likely contains plenty of prickly pears, guava, dragon fruit, mamey sapote, guanabana, and many others. If the fruit is not readily available, it will become an opportunistic omnivore and will first look for vegetables and other plant matter but will also eat insects, small birds, small reptiles, and more. They prefer animal protein for feeding their young.

What Does A Captive Toucan Eat?

Captive toucans will have a similar diet to what they eat in the wild. You can serve your toucan bananas, apples, papaya, pear, mango, melons, and other fruits available in your area. You will also need to serve your pet a small number of insects to make sure it gets the proper amount of animal protein. Most owners say the Toucan will hunt any insects that enter its cage, which can be a good and bad thing. Hunting is fun to watch, and it helps get your bird the exercise it needs. However, insects can also carry bacteria and parasites that might get transmitted to your pet. It’s always better to provide captive-bred insects from your local pet store to minimize the risk of complications.

There are also several brands of commercial toucan food that you can purchase that will help provide your pet with a balanced diet, but when purchasing one of these foods, it’s important to look at the ingredients list so you can avoid harmful chemical preservatives and artificial dyes that might cause health problems for your pet.

Toucan resting on a tree
Image Credit: suju-foto, pixabay

What Should a Captive Toucan Avoid?

Your Toucan cannot eat citrus fruit. You should avoid feeding it oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, Haruka, tangerines, and many other types of citrus fruit.

Other Interesting Facts

  • The Toucan is one of the noisiest birds you are likely to encounter. Its singing sounds like croaking frogs, and that also makes tapping and clattering sound with their bill. Some owners have also said their Toucans will bark and growl, so these birds are not well suited to smaller apartments.
  • There are almost 40 different species of Toucan, and they can vary dramatically in size and color. While there will be many differences between the species, they will all have a large bill that appears too big for their body.
  • Many toucan species face declining numbers due to habitat destruction, hunting, and the illegal pet trade. If you purchase your bird from a breeder, we recommend ensuring that it was captive-bred, so you are not affecting their natural habitat.
  • As the Toucan moves around eating fruit, it benefits the rainforest by dropping seeds along the way. In fact, some plants rely exclusively on the Toucan to propagate.
  • Toucans are extremely expensive, and most pets go for more than $10,000.



Toucans can make great pets if you have the budget to afford one, and they have a long lifespan, so they will be a treasured companion. Its diet is easy to maintain and consists mainly of fruits along with some animal protein. There are also commercial foods available that will help take the guesswork out of it.

We hope you have enjoyed this short guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If we have helped you provide your pet with a healthy diet, please share this guide to what toucans eat in the wild and as pets on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: NatureForGirls, Pixabay

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