Thursday, August 23, 2007

Toco Toucan

The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) is the largest and arguably best known species in the toucan family. It is found in semi-open habitats throughout a large part of central and eastern South America. It is a common attraction in zoos.
The Toco Toucan eats mainly fruit (e.g. figs and Passiflora edulis) using its bill to pluck them from trees, but also insects, and nestlings and eggs of birds. Has been known to capture and eat small adult birds in captivity. The long bill is useful for reaching things that otherwise would be out-of-reach. It is also used to skin fruit and scare off predators. It is typically seen in pairs or small family-groups. In flight it alternates between a burst of rapid flaps with the relatively short, rounded wings and gliding. Nesting is seasonal, but timing differ between regions. The nest is typically placed high in a tree and consists of a cavity; at least part of which is excavated by the parent birds themselves. It has also been recorded nesting in holes in earth-bank and terrestrial termite-nest. Their reproduction cycle is annual. The female usually lays two to four eggs a few days after mating. The eggs are incubated by both sexes and hatch after 17-18 days. These birds are very protective of themselves and of their babies.
The Toco Toucans can become pets if taken from the nest and hand reared as babies. Their requirements are specific but basic, and must be strictly adhered to. Requirements include items such as spacious cages to move about because of their active nature, and toys in their cage to provide mental stimulation. They have an almost exclusive frugivorous (fruit) diet; with that diet comes a sensitivity to hemochromatosis (iron storage disease) which can make them difficult for the novice keeper to maintain. When provided with these things they make wonderful affectionate pets and can be quite hardy in a captive environment. The record for captive longevity is 26 years.... (more on
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