This study reports the content of iron and selected minerals from food items commonly ingested by keel-billed toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus) in their native habitat in Belize, Central America. These same minerals were analyzed and compared with those found in a commercially prepared diet that was formulated to be low in iron. Seven of the food items collected from the wild had a total iron content ≤ 50 μg/g, whereas the remaining food items were ≤150 μg/g (except for 1 plant item). In contrast, the low-iron diet contained 210 μg/g of iron on a dry-matter basis. This study suggests that iron overload from feeding a commercial diet may contribute to the development of iron storage (disease) in captive toucans and other iron-sensitive species.
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Vol. 15 • No. 3