Kinkajou

This species is rather confusingly called the honey bear, although it belongs to the raccoon family. Wild kinkajous have also never been observed feeding on honey.

Kinkajous are almost entirely arboreal (tree-living). Thanks to their long claws and prehensile tails, they are very agile climbers. On the hottest days they emerge from their stifling dens to cool off in the open on branches.

At night, kinkajous race around the trees in search of fruit. After searching through one tree, they will cautiously move to the next before beginning to forage again. They use their long tongue to reach the soft flesh and juices inside the fruit.

Kinkajous tend to return to the same roosting trees each dawn. They travel alone or in breeding pairs. However, groups of kinkajous may form in trees that are heavy with fruit. Kinkajous leave their scent on branches, probably as a signal to potential mates. They also give shrill calls to communicate with partners. Mating takes place all year round, and single offspring are born after four months.

Kinkajous have soft and woolly fur, with rounded heads and stockier bodies than most of their relatives. They are sometimes mistaken for the African primates known as pottos.

Kinkajous have a well-developed social structure, living in family groups. They mark their territory using scent glands located on the head and throat, as well as the belly. They rely on their keen sense of smell to locate food, too. Their eyesight is poor, and they lack colour vision, living in the rainforest where the light is gloomy. They are nocturnal by nature. Kinkajous are significant in the ecology of the rainforest because they pollinate plants when taking nectar.

Distribution: Occurs widely in suitable habitat through central and northern South America. Distribution extends from southern parts of Mexico right down to southern parts of Brazil.

Habitat: Forests.

Weight: 2 - 3 kg (4 - 7 lb); males are heavier.

Length: 84 - 112 cm (33 - 44 in); about 20 cm (8 in) tall.

Food: Frugivorous, feeding mainly on fruit, as well as nectar and insects and small vertebrates.

Maturity: Females 2.5 - 3 years; males 1.5 - 2 years.

Gestation Period: 98 - 120 days, breeding throughout the year.

Breeding: 1 - 2; weaning occurs at 3 - 5 months.

Lifespan: Up to 23 years; can be 40 in captivity.

Status: Endangered.

Tail

Covered in short hair, the tail is prehensile, allowing the kinkajou to grip branches firmly while climbing.

Colouration

The outer fur appears golden or burnished brown, with a grey undercoat.

Head

The head is rounded, with low-set, widely spaced ears and a very narrow snout.

Feet

Sharp claws on the toes help the kinkajou to maintain its grip.

Feeding aid

The kinkajous long but narrow tongue measures up to 13 cm (5 in), helping it to lick up pollen grains from flowers.

A Kinkajou rubs its scent on a tree branch.

HANGING AROUND

The kinkajou’s weight can be supported just by its tail.

Gallery of Kinkajou