Kinkajou – Profile and Information

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Also known as honey bears, Kinkajous are small, golden-brown mammals that stay in the rainforest and are increasingly kept as pets.

Popular celebrities like Paris Hilton haven been reported to keep a kinkajou as a pet. Nevertheless, these exotic mammals aren’t meant for the rich and famous alone.

Kinkajous belongs to the family Procyonidae, and they are also related to the ringtail, coatis, raccoons, olingos, and cacomistle. They have the appearance of a ferret or a monkey even though they aren’t closely related.

Kinkajous are hunted for their fur, meat, and pet trade. Owning and caring for a kinkajou isn’t a child’s play, as they require exceptional attention. Below is all you need to know about kinkajous.

Scientific classification

  • Scientific Name: Potos flavus
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Family: Procyonidae
  • Genus: Potos

Subspecies

These are the seven subspecies identified;

  • Flavus flavus
  • Flavus nocturnes
  • Flavus modestus
  • Flavus meridensis
  • Flavus megalotus
  • Flavus chiriquensis
  • Flavus chapadensis

Description

  • Size: Adult kinkajous can measure about 40 to 60 cm (16-24 inches) in length while their tails can measure up to 40-60 cm (16-24 inches).
  • Weight: They can weigh about 1.4-4.6 kg (3-10 pounds).
  • Eyes and ears: These mammals possess large eyes and small ears.
  • Legs: These move around with short legs, and each foot has five digits and very sharp claws.
  • Fur: These mammals naturally have woolly hair that consists of brownish-gray or golden outer coat partially covering the gray undercoat.

Range and habitat

The kinkajou ranges from the eastern and southern parts of Sierra Madres, Bolivia, across Central America, and Atlantic Forest in southeastern parts of Brazil.

They can survive at an altitude of (2500 m) from sea level. They dwell in dry forests, lowland rainforests, montane forests, gallery forests, and in branches high up in the tropical forest canopies.

Behavior

  • They are arboreal and nocturnal, being quite hard to find and study.
  • They find a hollow or a crook in a tree and spend their day sleeping or hiding. They either use may the same spot to sleep, or they could use a new place.
  • Sometimes individuals gather to groom, socialize, play, and sleep together.
  • Some kinkajous have been seen building nests in palm trees rather than using the hollow of trees. Kinkajous live a somewhat “solitary group-life.” They prefer to live alone but can join other kinkajous within their group when its time to feed.
  • They are mostly up and running after 7 PM, especially since they are nocturnal, and would typically end their hunt for food before sunrise so they can return to their nests or safe spot.
  • When in small groups or alone, kinkajous would usually maintain their movements within their territory and channel the same route every night.

Diet

Despite being classified as carnivores, kinkajous feed majorly on fruits. They spend their time eating fig and some ripe fruits. These mammals feed on soft fruits by using their forepaws to firmly hold the fruits and use their tongue to scrape the pulp out.

Kinkajous also feed on several kinds of herbs, flowers, and leaves.

They sometimes eat smaller vertebrates, insects, and even birds. Surprisingly, they also enjoy licking nectar from flowers and are able to use their long slender tongue to get fruits.

Sounds

Unlike some mammals, kinkajous are very noisy as they are able to produce high-pitched barks, squeaks, hisses, grunts, and whistles to pass messages to each other.

Predators

Several predators threaten the kinkajous, and some of them include tayras, foxes, jaguars, margays, ocelots, and some birds of prey like harpy eagles.

Adaptations

  • Kinkajous possess prehensile tails that they use for grabbing onto tree branches when looking for food. They also use their tail to smuggle when sleeping. Cute, isn’t it?
  • Their sturdy tail is used to help keep their body balanced, and the tip of their tail is used for turning their body, and like tricksters, are able to climb back up their tail.
  • Kinkajous have flexible spines that allow them to wind their bodies into tight spots.
  • Kinkajous are able to climb down tree trunks headfirst by rotating their hind ankles. They are able to run backward by turning their feet in a reverse direction, which enables them to rid themselves of large predators lol ocelots, margays, and jaguars.
  • Near their mouths are a scent gland, the throat, and their belly. These special glands allow them to mark their territories and travel routes.

Reproduction

Kinkajous are known to breed throughout a year. Female kinkajous naturally give birth to 1 or 2 baby Kinkajous after a gestation period lasting up to 100-120 days.

Kinkajous at birth can weigh about 2 ounces (55 grams). Kinkajou babies are left in their nest while their mother goes in search of food.

Kinkajou babies

Baby Kinkajous are born blind and would open their eyes for their first time when they are 1-2 weeks old. After 3 to 6 weeks, their tails become prehensile.

They are able to munch on solid food when they are about eight weeks old. Baby Kinkajous are weaned when they are 3-5 months old and are able to navigate their way around tree branches with confidence.

Male kinkajous stay with momma kinkajous for about 18 months and are sexually mature at this point, while females find a new bearing when they are two years old as they become sexually ready at 2 or 3 years.

Lifespan

On average, kinkajous live for about 23 years in captive. Nonetheless, the highest recorded lifespan of a Kinkajou is 41 years. Although there isn’t sufficient detail about kinkajou’s lifespan in the wild. Averagely, they’re believed to last up to 29 years.

Kinkajous as pets

Amazingly, some people are able to keep these exotic animals as a pet. It is critical that they are adequately trained at a young age once adopted.

The following factors should be considered if owners want to guarantee a healthy kinkajou:

  • Cage Setup: The minimum advised size of your Kinkajou’s enclosure ought to be 4’X8’X6’. They can be kept outdoor if the climatic conditions are milder.
  • This will serve them with tolerable heat during winter. A normal-sized cage should cost about 200 dollars.
  • Temperament: The slow movements and the docile nature of this mammal makes it a lovable and delicate pet. Kinkajous are quiet, gentle, playful, and the fantastic part is that they don’t stink too much. Nevertheless, they sometimes show their aggressive side. When upset, kinkajous can attack, claw, and bite the victims.
  • Training and exercise: Baby kinkajous don’t have any aggressive behavior. They should be allowed outside their cage to play and move about for several hours. Because they climb high places and hide in hollows or nests, it might be challenging to get litter trained. However, their most frequently nesting spot can be monitored, and owners can put in placemats that would be used to catch their fecal droppings.
  • Sleep: Kinkajous prefer to sleep in hanging pouches and hammocks. These hammocks can be made available for about 20 to 40 dollars.
  • Food and diet: They must be consistently provided with fruits and fresh vegetables. They don’t mind snacking on monkey biscuits and would take treats including raisins, dates, graham crackers, and fig Newton.
  • Vaccinations: These exotic animals should be neutered using K/MLV vaccine. It’s a very effective way to minimize the risk of canine distemper disease and other health complications.

Conservation Status

According to IUCN 3.1. The kinkajou has been cataloged as “Least Concern.”

Interesting facts about the kinkajou

  • Kinkajous got their other name “honey bear” from being notorious for invading beehives for honey.
  • Generally, due to their dense and short fur, they are protected from bee stings.
  • They sometimes expose their bare-skinned palm and their belly to get some cool, refreshing breeze when the weather is too hot.
  • Due to their barking and high-pitched screeches, kinkajous have also earned the privilege of being nicknamed “La Llorona,” which is the Spanish term for “crying woman.”
  • They are popularly referred to in Belize as the “nightwalkers.”
  • Typically, their hearing ability is so outstanding that they can hear the movements of crawling snakes.

I hope you enjoyed reading all this amazing information about the Kinkajou. If you have any suggestions, comments, or contributions, do not hesitate to use the comments below.

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