With its colourful bill (a brilliant yellow-orange), The Toco Toucan is a fascinating creature with a docile character. Let’s find out some more about it…

The Toco Toucan (scientific name Ramphastos Toco) is probably the best-known toucan, a striking creature bearing all the characteristics of the species.

Javier Franco, Private Tattoo Studio, Popayán, Colombia
Javier Franco, Private Tattoo Studio, Popayán, Colombia

They are native to South America where their habitat ranges over a vast area, but not, strangely enough, the rainforest. If you are hoping to come across this great lover of tropical fruit, you should look for them in open woodlands, plantations, rivers and the margins of the great forests of this huge continent.

So let’s take a look at their main characteristics, starting naturally with their great brightly coloured bill (a shade of yellow-orange that is just perfect for testing the skills of your tattoo artist) with a black spot on the tip. And another striking feature of our beloved Toco Toucan is the dramatic circle of blue skin around each eye.

Chaim Machlev, DotsTolines, Berlin, Germany
Chaim Machlev, DotsTolines, Berlin, Germany

And what about their weight? Quite light, seeing as how in order to be able to fly they rarely, if ever, reach a kilogramme. The lightest specimens barely come to 600 grammes while their sturdier brethren tend to weigh in at 750/760 grammes. All balanced by a standard height of 61 centimetres and a wingspan which is generally double that.

As you might imagine, the male is much larger than the female while juvenile Toco Toucans often have duller plumage.

Jordan Croke, Second Skin Tattoo, Derby UK
Jordan Croke, Second Skin Tattoo, Derby UK

A flock of toucans normally consists of at most six birds and their mission, apart from reproduction, is to find ripe fruit to feed on. This is the reason for their outrageously large bill, long enough to reach food among the branches and also to frighten off predators. The yellow-orange colour also serves as camouflage, although the persistent call of the Toco Toucan (see video!) which makes them easy to locate, can at times have a boomerang effect.

The courtship involves the male throwing fruit at the female. And should she throw the fruit/love token back at him, then it means that she has found her ideal mate.

Marina Gonchova, No Name Tattoo Shop, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Marina Gonchova, No Name Tattoo Shop, Saint Petersburg, Russia

When it comes time for nesting, the female lays between two and four eggs which are then incubated for about three weeks by both parents. The chicks leave the nest after about two months and become sexually mature when they are about three years old (a Toco Toucan lives for an average of twenty years or so).

Apart from fruit, the Toco Toucan can also feed on insects or, in extreme cases, steal the eggs of other birds. They are not aggressive by nature and the main threat to this species is close encounters with carnivores like the jaguar, snakes (especially anacondas) or eagles.

Enjoy our colourful gallery dedicated to the best tattoos featuring the lovable Toco Toucan!