Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

(Ramphastos swainsonii)


Chestnut-mandibled Toucan IUCN NEAR THREATENED (NT)


Facts about this animal

The chestnut-mandibled toucan is the second largest toucan, topped only by Ramphastos toco. Males have a total length of 56 cm and a body weight of 750 g, females measure 52 cm and weigh 580 g. The plumage is mostly black with strong maroon suffusion on crown, hindneck, upper back and breast. Bib deep yellow bordered by a narrow line of white, followed by a broader line of red. Upper tail coverts white, lower tail coverts red. The iris is olive, the bare skin around the eye light green shading to yellow.

The distinctive hollow bill can grow up 20 cm long. It is much lighter than it looks and slightly translucent. It is bicoloured, bright yellow above and dark maroon below. The strong feet and legs are bluish.

The Chestnut-mandibled toucan nests in tree cavities resulting from decay or in old woodpecker hollows. The female lays pure white, elliptical shaped eggs, usually 3-4 per clutch. Incubation lasts 16 days, and young fledge the nest at 46-50 days.

Toucans are frugivorous birds, consume fruit from as many as 100 species of trees and other plants. They also consume a variety of insects for protein, especially during their nesting cycle, and ocasionally snakes, lizards or nestling birds.

Did you know?
that the Chestnut-mandibled, or Swainson's, toucan is sometimes considered to be the northern subspecies of the Black-mandibled toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus), which occurs in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela?


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Ramphastos swainsonii
Name (English) Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Name (French) Toucan de Swainson
Name (German) Swainson-Tukan
Name (Spanish) Tucán de Pico Castaño
Local names Costa Rica: Quioro, Dios-te-dé, Gran Curré negro
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Central America: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and adjoining Colombia
Habitat Subtropical and tropical moist lowland and montane forests
Wild population No global estimates available but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'frequent' in at least parts of its range (1996) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 90 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan


How this animal should be transported

Toucans must be shipped singly. For air transport, Container Note 13 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

This is a large, conspicuous and attractive bird, which is a good ambassador species for the conservation of neotropical forests. Toucans have an interesting anatomy, e.g. the large and very light bill, or two toes directed forward and two backward like in a parrot, and interesting behaviour, and are thus also of educational interest. Zoos may keep toucans also for animal welfare reasons as they may have to take care of confiscated birds, or former pet birds.