toco toucanScientific Name– Ramphastos toco

Conservation Status– Least Concern


The majority of the toco toucan is coloured black. On the throat there is a patch of white plumage. The eye is a black ball surrounded by a thin patch of skin which appears blue. Around the blue area there is a ring of exposed skin which is orange.

One of the most notable features of the toco toucan is its large bill. This bill is around 19cm in size and is comprised of keratin (the same substance as human hair) which makes it very light. The bill has a small black patch next to the body before becoming orange for the majority. At the tip is another black section.

The toco toucan is the largest toucan subspecies. They measure between 55 and 65cm (22-26inch). The toco toucan weighs 500 to 876g in size. T6he female is generally smaller than the male. These toucans have wings measuring 50-119cm (20-47in).


The toco toucan can live for 12-20 years.


The toco toucan is an omnivore. They live on a diet of fruit, insects, eggs, lizards, young birds, berries and nuts.


Toco toucans come from South America. They can be found throughout the majority of this continent as well as Central America and some Caribbean islands.

The toco toucan enjoys a habitat of open forests. They live in woodland, savannahs and other open areas. This adaptation means they have adapted well to the deforestation taking place in South America.


Breeding for the toco toucan varies throughout its range. The nest is normally built in a tree but some have been recorded in earth banks and termite mounds.

A few days after the pair mate two to four eggs are deposited in the nest. Both members of the pair will sit on the nest till hatching occurs 17-18 days later. It takes at least 3 months for the chicks to reach adult size.

toco toucanBehaviour

Toucans are normally solitary especially when they are feeding. Occasionally they will be found of groups of 6-7.

The toucans bright plumage is used a means of camouflage in the dappled sunlight of the rainforest.

This species is preyed upon by large birds of prey, big cats and humans. The eggs of this species are taken by weasels, snakes and rats. Many small species are intimated by the large bill of this species.

The large bill is used for grabbing food off of trees and for heat exchange. Blood flow to this area can be regulated which controls the heat of the body. Young toucans can be observed with the bill under their wings. This is believed to be as heat control does not develop till later in life.

Quick facts

The toco toucan is a popular pet which is regularly kept around the world

Indigenous people of South America believe the toucan is a conduit between living people and the spirits

Photo credits

By Jf1911jf1911 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By gipe25 uploaded by benjli ( [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons