The Proper Diet for a Swainson Toucan


Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Sandpoint, Idaho Of: Swainson Toucan "Fiji"

If you thought a parrot's diet was strict, wait until you hear about a Swainson Toucan's diet! I am going to use the term "toucan" in reference to a Swainson toucan as that is all I have personally ever owned. I assume this diet is for most, if not all, toucans but that is beyond my knowledge and I've never had a reason to look any deeper into it. The best source for more detailed information on toucans (a variety of kinds) is Emerald Forest.

A toucan's diet should be 60% or more fresh fruits prepared DAILY. 40% or less should be a pellet diet lightly soaked in distilled water. I've found Mazuri pellets to be the lowest in iron (parts per million). Every batch of toucan food should be less than 100 PPM (parts per million) and more preferably under 70 PPM.

The reason toucans have such a strict diet is because they cannot have any iron. Iron in toucans causes Iron Storage Disease, also referred to as Hemochromatosis.


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Toucans need a lot of melon. Melons are where they get most of their daily fluids from. Below is a list of of fruits and vegetables toucans should have in their diet. The list is made in order as best and most often to feed them. Number one being the food to feed more often and lots of to number sixteen being the least of and less often.

1. Papaya

2. Cantaloupe

3. Seedless Apples (any color)

4. Mangos, Blueberries

5. Pears

6. Peaches

7. Honey Due Melons

8. Seedless Water Melon

9. Bananas

10. Kiwi, Strawberries

11. Plums

12. Steamed Yams (good for plumage color)

13. Steamed Carrots (no dark green veggies, they contain iron)

14. Cooked Corn (cut off the cob only)

15. Seedless Grapes

16. Seedless Cherries 

Thawed berries and veggies are okay to feed to a toucan but it's much better to feed only the fresh stuff. If you choose to cut their fruit into small pieces, it's preferred, otherwise the toucan will take it upon himself to make it smaller and they do this by squeezing their food tightly and flinging the larger parts off. Usually resulting in messy walls, windows, and floors.

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All foods must be rid of any seeds, pits or cores. Toucans cannot have any greens as they contain iron, nor can they be fed any citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, pineapples, etc...

Toucans cannot have tap water, spring water, or any type of bottled water. Most tap water has minerals in it, including iron as do the other types of waters among other things. Toucans must have distilled water because it is free of all iron.

The important aspects of a toucan's diet to remember are: No citrus fruits, No greens, and ONLY distilled water.

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.

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