Species group: Toucans
Other common names:
Scientific name: Aulachorynchus prasinus
No toucan is a bird for the absolute newbie, but the Emerald Toucanet might be a good first toucan for a well-motivated, well-funded pet owner who has some experience with other birds. They are a smaller, more practical size for some people, but they have the spirit and intelligence of much bigger birds. Emeralds tame easily and they seem to enjoy their people, even purring with pleasure when you pet them.
The diverse Emerald Toucanet occurs over a wide range from as far north as Mexico to as far south as Bolivia. They are birds of the moist mountain forests, where they nest in woodpecker holes that they cannot excavate for themselves.
The generic Emerald Toucanet is a small brilliant green toucan with a black and yellow bill, with a female of a given subspecies tending to have a shorter, stubbier bill than the male. However, at the time of writing, there are 14 to 17 subspecies of this highly diverse bird, and several of these subspecies may be ultimately split off as full species. Your breeder knows best which subspecies you are buying, so ask.
120 - 230 grams (5 - 8 oz.)
30 - 37 centimeters (12 - 14.5 in.)
15 - 20 years
Behavior / temperament:
The Emerald Toucanet can make an extremely rewarding pet for the person who can spend time with these intelligent creatures. A single pet will play catch for grapes, and it will purr with pleasure when it's being petted. They love to bathe and will express obvious joy when being gently misted with cool water on a warm day. They don't care to be isolated or ignored, and they may croak like a frog to gain attention.
They can become aggressive toward your other pets, either because they are jealous or because (in the case of a pair) they are getting into breeding condition. Do not ask the Emerald Toucanet to share its quarters with other species.
Emerald Toucanets cannot be happy unless they are able to leap and to fly. They can't exercise by climbing. A single pet held indoors needs a very long cage – at least six feet long. You should also have a place where it's OK for your pet to hang out with you outside the cage. Because of the frugivore's soft feces, they are not good over a carpeted area. Place plastic over the carpet, or perhaps just replace the carpet with a nice quarry tile.
The Emerald Toucanets benefit from sunlight, and they can do splendidly in an aviary that allows them access to natural sunlight. They will need protection from mosquitoes and predators, and they will also appreciate a sturdy shelter from the cold. Some of them are from rather mountainous subspecies and can tolerate cool weather if they are properly acclimated. Depending on where you live, overheating might be the bigger worry. Construct the aviary with some common sense. Birds in southern California won't need a complicated heating system, but birds held in the dry southwestern United States would certainly need a sprinkler system that comes on and cools things down if the temperature starts to soar.
Like the other toucans, Emerald Toucanets must be fed carefully to prevent the development of iron storage disease, which can cause sudden death. The backbone of the diet is fruit -- 70% papaya, 20% bananas, 5% grapes and 5% blueberries. The mix of fruit is not set in stone, and if papaya is not available, then cantaloupe can be used. Many other fruits can also be added to the mix. However, because citrus fruit may promote the storage of iron in the body, avoid oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and other citrus. Pineapple and tomato also contain citric acid, so they should be avoided as well.
Softbill pellets should be a low iron variety developed specifically for toucans that has NO propylene glycol. Mazuri Low Iron Softbill Diet is a highly regarded pellet that fills these specifications. Insects and pinkie mice, which you will see recommended in older diets, should not be given except on advice of an expert breeder or avian vet. Fresh water should be available at all times, including a shallow pan for splashing and bathing.
Written by Elaine Radford
quiet birds, wonderful bird, beautiful bird, calm bird
fairly challenging bird, good avian vet, beginner bird, large flight, space requirements
froglike croak, live insect food, active softbill, Softbill pellets
I worked with Sammy for a short while but he was a very affectionate and calm bird, easy to work with. See other comments here for info on diet and space requirements; the Emerald Toucanet is not a beginner bird. It's fun to watch them eat and play. Sammy would entertain us and himself for hours with a ball or jingly toy. If there were bird baseball teams, Sammy's hitting and catching would have made him a star. If you are looking for a fairly challenging bird and don't care that it's never going to recite Shakespeare, a toucanet like Sammy might be a good choice..
From BobHaynes Dec 5 2014 5:06PM
A wonderful pet but a heart-breaker
I obtained this bird in the 1980s. The importer had already held the bird for a year, and it was not a good situation for an active softbill. There was little, almost no, information about how to properly house and feed these birds, but I knew that the bird needed fruit and protein, and I was able to provide him with a large flight, as well as the ability to free-fly in a bird-safe home. This beautiful bird tamed down right away. They cannot sing or speak, and occasionally they may call with a frog-like croak, but they are pretty much quiet birds who rely on their actions to win your heart. He learned almost right away to take food from the hand and to fly to my arm. He could make bathing gestures to remind me to give him a nice shower. He was just a wonderful bird to be around. The heartbreak comes because I did not know when I obtained the bird that they were prone to iron storage disease, possibly caused by a diet too high in protein. Softbill pellets were formulated for mynah birds in those days, and I also included plenty of live insect food in the diet. My beautiful, talented pet died very suddenly after only a few short years. I would strongly encourage anyone who wants a toucanet to learn about the modern diets available for these birds. They will also require a nice, large aviary where they can fly freely. I know that my pet spent almost a year between quarantine and the importer's, before the importer decided that he could not place the bird. During that time, he was in a too-small pen that really didn't allow him to properly use his feet for leaping or his wings for flying. He seemed strong enough when I got him, but I'll always wonder how that year of close confinement may have affected his health.
Like all softbills, plan on a much above average cost for proper housing and proper diet. You will want to budget for a good avian vet as well..
From peachfront Jun 8 2012 2:09PM