Saffron Toucanet

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Is the Saffron Toucanet right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Baillon's Toucan; Baillon's Toucanet; Banana Toucan; Banana Toucanet

Scientific name: Pteroglossus bailloni

The basics:
The beautiful Saffron Toucanet is rated as “near threatened” in the wild because of illegal collecting for pets, hunting, and loss of its forest habitat. At the same time, it seems to have fallen out of fashion in aviculture, so it is vanishing from the legal captive pet market. For these reasons, the Saffron Toucanet must be recommended only to serious experts willing to provide all the necessary care involved in breeding and preserving the species for future generations.

The unique “Banana” Toucanet, as the Saffron Toucanet has occasionally been called, is different enough from the other small aracaris that it was formerly placed in its own genus, Baillonius, and you will still find information under the older name. As a forest bird of the eastern South America – including southeast Brazil, Paraguay, and northeast Argentina, it has faced some challenges. Despite the legal protections offered to wild birds in Brazil since the 1960s, there are still reports of a problem with illegal collecting of these beautiful birds for pets. Know your breeder, and do not accept birds of an unknown background. They may still be hunted as a food animal in Paraguay.

The Saffron Toucanet is one of the most beautiful of the small toucans thanks to its lovely saffron colored head and underparts. It's also easy to sex, because the females have noticeably shorter, stubbier bills than the males.

150 grams (5 oz.)

Average size:
37 centimeters (14.5 in.)

15 years

Behavior / temperament:
Saffron Toucanets need to be hand-fed or handled by humans very early, or they will be somewhat bashful. They can make truly spectacular aviary birds, but you should probably house each pair in its own aviary, rather than asking them to share quarters with other species. They could experience seasonal aggression, and they could be somewhat sensitive about being teased by other birds. With the species vanishing from aviculture, it would be worthwhile to give them their own quarters to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Saffron Toucanets are intelligent and have a long memory, so don't do anything to lose their trust. While these birds normally love to be showered by their people, a zoo bird was once accidentally hit too hard with a spray from a hose – and he never allowed the keepers to shower him again, even though his mate continued to enjoy it.

In addition to a charming purr of contentment, they also have a rather loud froglike croak that can be somewhat persistent if they feel neglected.

An individual Saffron Toucanet cannot be happy unless the bird is 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.

Serious breeders will do best if they are willing to house them in their own spacious, well-planted, well-equipped walk-in tropical aviary. In the right climate, the aviary may offer some access to natural sunlight. It should also be secure against thieves, predators, rodents, and mosquitoes, and of course it should be maintained at warm, tropical temperatures that allow plenty of opportunities for the birds to bathe. You must provide the nesting log, since Saffron Toucanets use woodpecker cavities – their large bill is completely ineffective for digging out their own hole from scratch.

Like the other toucans, Saffron 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


reserved bird


tasty food bribes, free fly indoors

Saffron Toucanet Health Tip

Saffron Toucanet

From peachfront Nov 2 2012 2:00PM


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