What is an Aracari?
Aracaris (pronounced ara sari) are small members of the Toucan family that are found in Central and South America. They typically live in family groups sometimes numbering up to a dozen or so individuals. At night, the group will pack themselves into tree hollows where they feel safe and protected. They are very social, curious and intelligent, all of which makes them ideal as pet birds when handfed. They are in the group of birds loosely referred to as softbills, however, their beak is anything but! The term refers to the typical diet rather than the physical structure of the beak. Although it looks heavy, the large beak is actually very lightweight yet amazingly strong. This is due to a dense, honeycomb matrix that fills the interior. The result is a beak tough enough to chisel out a palm log but delicate enough to feed a 10 gram chick the tiniest piece of fruit!
Their diet consists mainly of fruits but they will also take animal protein on occasion. This can be in the form of insects, small reptiles, bird eggs and other small vertebrate prey. The amount of animal protein certainly spikes when the parents are raising chicks. In captive conditions the birds are typically provided a fruit mixture along with a low-iron pellet to round out the diet. Aracaris, like many softbills, are prone to hemachromatosis, a condition where excessive amounts of iron store in the liver and cause the sudden death of the individual. Choosing the appropriate fruits and pellets will help prevent this from happening to your pet. Here at Black Jungle, our breeding pairs are fed papaya, mango, cooked yam & sweet potato, cucumber, kiwi, blueberries, peas, grapes, banana and melon, along with low iron pellets. During the breeding season it is fortified further in various ways depending on the species. We start feeding cubed, cooked egg to them when they start showing signs of breeding behavior. Once we notice abdominal swelling in the hen we start adding crushed egg shells to supply extra calcium and minerals for the imminent egg laying. The Ivory Bills really like feeding mixed greens to the chicks so they get plenty added each day otherwise they will strip the ficus tree in their flight! The Curls like much more animal protein so they get 500 1/2" crickets per day for their chicks. They would take more but that is where we keep them for the most part. Each bird has their own preference as to what they will eat first and leave last. Pet birds do not need this amount of variety and a fruit mix based on papaya, blueberries, kiwi and melon is perfectly acceptable.
We currently maintain 4 different species of Aracari, Curl Crested Aracari- Pteroglossus beauharnaesii, Ivory Billed Aracari- Pteroglossus azara, Collared Aracari- Pteroglossus torquatus, and Green Aracari- Pteroglossus viridis
Here is a glimpse into the nursery: