Green Aracari

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Is the Green Aracari right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: N/A

Scientific name: Pteroglossus viridis

The basics:
The smallest of the aracaris, the colorful Green Aracari has become widely known as the easiest toucan now commonly bred in captivity. All toucans require some expense and special attention, but the Green Aracari can be recommended as a first or only pet toucan to the dedicated person with some experience with other softbills or other pet birds.

This aracari is a bird of the lowland forest of northeastern South America, including Venezuela, the Guinas, and northern Brazil, where they consume a diet high in tree fruits. Like some other aracaris, small groups can sometimes be seen drinking or actually bathing in rain water caught in leaves or various cavities in the trees.

The Green Aracari is named for its very dark green or greeny-black upperparts, but what stands out is the bright yellow underparts, flashy red rump, and color-block patterned bill. An easy to sex species, the males have a black head, neck, and throat, where the female is more of a chestnut brown in those spots.

110 - 160 grams (3.9 - 5.6 oz.)

Average size:
37 centimeters (14.5 in.)

15 - 20 years

Behavior / temperament:
Green Aracaris that are hand-fed or handled by humans from a very early age become very highly regarded pets. They snuggle, purring with happiness. They can play catch, whether with a soft toy or with an edible object like a grape. They quickly learn to fly to the hand for treats and attention. Their unusual appearance, combined with their great personality, makes them extremely endearing pets.

Green Aracaris 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.

Green Aracaris 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. Depending on where you live, overheating might be the bigger worry, as wild aracaris are forest birds who would always be able to seek out shade if the weather got too hot. 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. These birds love to bathe, so provide a bird bath as well as the mister.

Like the other toucans, Green Aracaris 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

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