A Buyer's Guidelines
Visit the Facility:
Always ask if you can visit the breeder to see his operation. If they decline, it may be because they are hiding something. Either it may be a broker and not really a breeder, or a facility that is run down and dirty to the point the breeder is embarrassed to show it. Excuses the birds are breeding, or visitors are not allowed for whatever reason, are simply excuses and raise a red flag. Breeders with high quality operations are proud to show their birds and should always invite you to see their operations.
Ask the breeder if they're willing to have a veterinarian examine the bird(s). (Of, course you should be willing to pay for any exam), but the breeder's willingness to do so is a telltale sign of confidence in the bird's overall health. If they refuse, then something may be wrong, or may not have a relationship with a vet. It is extremely important that breeding facilities have vets who give routine check-ups to the animals they are raising.
How the birds are raised:
Ask how the birds are raised. Birds raised outdoors are less likely to have health issues and/or be exposed to airborne viruses and other diseases. Outdoor birds are always healthier and more desirable. Indoor bred birds are often exposed to airborne viruses and other diseases, which become concentrated do to lack of fresh air. No matter how indoor birds are maintained, they simply cannot be as healthy.
Always ask if the birds are close-banded or not. Close-banded bird rings (which go on the leg) are important identifiers of where your bird came from, what year it was born and is a good indicator that it was hatched and raised in captivity (as close-bands cannot be put on adult birds legs and can only be applied to chicks). This ensures that the breeder is honest with where their birds came from.
Try to buy from breeders that are MAP certified. Map certified breeders have been inspected periodically by a licensed veterinarian and the inspection report is then reviewed by a panel of other veterinarians and respected breeders. MAP aviaries are held to the very highest standards of care for their birds. Visit the MAP website to review their procedures, practices and standards of care. Map certification is one of the important ways you can reassure yourself you are getting a bird from a high quality breeder.
Reviews & References:
Ask the breeder for references from other customers and/or his veterinarian. If they cannot provide references, then most likely there are problems. If the breeder has been serving customers well, they will be proud to share that with you.
Too Good to be True:
Beware of cheap prices. Some Internet advertisers offer cheap prices - so cheap you should be suspicious. These "cheap" birds are often smuggled, stolen, or simply nonexistent. Internet scammers are becoming highly sophisticated. Again, ask to visit to see the birds. Low prices and denial of visitation is a dead giveaway. Always been an educated buyer by knowing legitimate and licensed breeders. Contributing to the illegal pet trade does not show your love for toucans and their well-being in the wild and captivity.