Should I let my toucan around other birds?

This is a question that I’ve found is asked pretty often, and so I’ve decided to dedicate today’s blog post to this issue.

Some people have had luck allowing their toucans around their other birds for supervised playtime when those birds were of similar or larger size.  However mixing bird species can be risky, and with toucans you can really be playing with fire.

Toucans are quite different from most pet parrots, and from pet finches in that they are predatory, and while the bulk of their diet consists of fruit, birds do comprise a part of the diet of wild toucans.  Even if your toucan was born and raised in captivity its predatory instincts are not gone.  Predatory instincts are still very alive even in animals such as cats and dogs which have been domesticated for a very long time, and pet toucans are not nearly so removed from the wild.

Observe how your toucan plays, do you notice it gripping onto its rope toys and giving them a good bull dog style shake?  How about bashing toys against its perch or other hard surfaces?  That is predator behavior.  Just like a cat or a dog, a toucan will treat its toys as prey.  Toucans kill insects and birds by gripping onto them and shaking them violently, or by bashing them against a perch in the same manner.

People have also had dogs and cats that they’ve found got along with their birds for years, only one day much to their surprise to have that same dog or cat chomp down on or claw their bird, severely injuring or even killing the bird.   The situation could very well end in the same way with a toucan.

Even if your toucan means no harm, they can play rather rough and have a much higher level of energy than any parrot that I’ve ever encountered.  There are risks of a parrot being irked by the toucan’s behavior, and give your toucan a good chomp, and parrots can do a lot of damage with their beak.  So in the case of parrots, not only is your parrot at risk from your toucan, but your toucan is at risk from your parrot.
As for housing toucans with other birds, some have housed them in very large aviaries with large birds, but there’s some risk even that even larger birds will be harassed and possibly killed by a toucan.

Toucans are also nest robbers, and so it’s a terrible idea to try to breed birds with a toucan in the same aviary, as chicks, and eggs are likely to start disappearing.

Put a toucan with a smaller bird, and don’t be at all surprised if that smaller bird vanishes.

In conclusion, I don’t recommend having a toucan and another bird out of their cages together, and I definitely recomend not keeping a toucan in a cage with another bird.

However if you are going to have your toucan around another bird, keep the risks in mind, proceed with caution, supervise them closely.

Here’s a few resources on the predator-prey relationships between toucans and other birds.

An article on the interesting relationship between the toco toucan and the hyacinth macaw.

I don’t recommend watching the below video if you are squeamish about watching one animal feeding on another.
A video of crimson rumped toucanets feeding on a dove

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