Toco Toucan

Toco Toucan

Scientific Classification

Common Name
toco toucan
Genus Species
Ramphastos (large beak) toco

Fast Facts

Orange skin around the eyes; black body except for a white throat
Body: up to 62.5 cm (25 in.); beak: 18.75 cm (7.5 in)
600g (12 oz)
Omnivorous; mainly fruits, but occasionally insects, reptiles, birds and eggs
16 to 20 days
Clutch Size
2 to 4 eggs
Fledging Duration
8 to 9 weeks
Sexual Maturity
3 to 4 years
Life Span
Up to 20 years
This species has an extremely large range and can be found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.
Tropical rain forests
Global: The total population is unknown but believed to exceed 10,000 mature individuals. The population appears to be decreasing but is not severely fragmented.
IUCN: Least concern
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: No data

Fun Facts

The toucan's beak appears quite heavy, but is actually light. It is hollow, made of protein keratin with thin rods of bone to support it and is similar in consistency to a hard sponge.

Its tongue is like a feather that is used to catch and flick food down its throat.

In its native region, toucans are associated with evil spirits and are thought to be the incarnation of a demon. In certain religions of South and Central America, father of a new child must not eat toucan flesh as it might bewitch the newborn and cause it to fade away. The birds have also been used as a tribal totem and the medicine man may use them to fly to the spirit world

Toucans have a loud frog-like call that can be heard up to a half mile away in the jungle.

The toco toucan is a poor flyer, moving from tree to tree mostly by hopping.

Although scientists have yet to discover the exact function of such a large bill, they believe it may play an important role in the courtship display and as a defensive weapon.

When toucans sleep, they turn their head so that their long bill rests on their back and their tail is folded over their head. The bird becomes a ball of feathers. Often found in abandoned tree hollows or old woodpecker holes, 5 to 6 adults may sleep in one hole.

Ecology and Conservation

The toco toucan is subject to habit loss due to intense deforestation. There are areas of South and Central America where some species are rare due to hunting for food, ornamental feathers, and curio items. Many species are popular in the pet trade due to its brightly colored bill and keen intelligence.

The population is suspected to be in decline owing to hunting pressure and taking of young as pets


Gotch, A.F. Birds - Their Latin Names Explained. Poole, Dorst: Blandford Press, 1981.

Perrins, Dr. Christopher. Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World. New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. 1979.

Perrins, Dr. Christopher M. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds: The Definitive Reference to Birds of the World. New York: Prentice Hall Press. 1990.

Perrins, Dr. Christopher M. And Dr. Alex L.A. Middleton, eds. The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File Pub. 1985.$narrative.html

BirdLife International. 2017. Ramphastos toco (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22682164A113557535. Downloaded on 26 November 2018.