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What is a Kinkajou?
Sometimes called the Honey Bear or Sugar Bear, the Kinkajou is a wonderful little rainforest animal that is unfortunately on the endangered species list. If you ever wondered what a Kinkajou is, read on! Belonging to a family that includes raccoons, you can learn about this creature's behavior, diet, and more.
If you are interested in what it is like to have one as a pet, you can find out about that here also, but these are wild animals so if that is your plan, make sure you know what you are getting into. Make sure you have the proper license or permission in your area, as well as the facilities and knowledge to give these beautiful animals a wonderful life.
The Kinkajou is about the size of your common house cat, and weighs about 5 pounds. The Kinkajou tail is fully prehensile and is about the same length as it's body. The Kinkajou has a beautiful golden brown coat on top of a grey undercoat. The Kinkajou also has a long tongue, usually around 5 inches long, which it uses to lick nectar from flowers. The Kinkajou has a short snout and prominent eyes, but have poor vision.
The Kinkajou is a member of the Procyonidae family which includes the raccoon and the coatimundi. The Kinkajou is native to Cnatral and South America and is strictly nocturnal. Some people mistake them for monkeys when they are seen in their natural habitats, but they are not primates.
The Kinkajou Diet
The Kinkajou diet consists of mostly tropical fruits like bananas, mango, and pineapple, they also eat small insects, and the occasional bird and egg. The Kinkajou enjoy flower nectar and sometimes will even eat the whole flower. Because of the Kinkajou's love of nectar, they are very effective pollinators, transferring the pollen from flower to flower. The Kinkajou will also raid a bee hive for the honey, (hence the nicknames: sugar bear and honey bear).
The Kinkajou is extremely nocturnal, and sleeps all day. They are most active in the evenings and right before dawn. They also do not like sudden movements, and if startled, they may instinctively react with a deep bite. The Kinkajou are basically loners when looking for food, although they have been seen in groups from time to time, but they sleep in small family units, probably for greater protection from preditors. The Kinkajou can be rather playful and docile when it feels secure in it's environment. The Kinkajou communicate through a variety of vocalizations like low chirps, yelps, whistles, and even loud shrill shrieks when treatened, startled, or protecting food.
A Spanish nickname for the Kinkajou is La Llorona, because of the shrill vocalization a Kinkajou can make, which resembles a screaming woman.
La Llorona is the Mexican ghost story of a woman who drowned her children, and spends the afterlife loudy weeping while searching for them.
The life span of a Kinkajou is about 23 years, but Sugar Bear, a Kinkajou from the Honolulu Zoo, lived to the grand old age of 40.
The Female Kinkajou usually has just one offspring at a time, although twins are not unheard of. The gestation period is around 115 days. The baby is blind for the first month, with sight gradually improving over the next few weeks. By the second month, the baby kinkajou can already hang by it's tail.
The Kinkajou Tongue
Some people keep Kinkajou as pets. If you are interested in owning a Kinkajou, you must first realize that they are wild animals, and as such, cannot be trained the way a domestic animal can. The Kinkajou will stay awake all night, so if you are the typical person who sleeps at night, this is not the right pet for you. The Kinkajou are very active at night and cannot be "day trained" effectively.
The Kinkajou is also food aggressive, and will protect it's territory. The Kinkajou is inquisitive, and will tear anything apart out of curiosity. They have very nimble fingers, and can figure their way into or out of many enclosures.
The Kinkajou's cage must be large with a top to prevent escape. The larger the cage, the better. The cage must be large enough to grow a small tree for the Kinkajou to climb, with built in ledges and ropes. Remember, they live almost all their lives in the trees in their natural environment, so it is inhumane to deprive them of this. If you do not have the capacity for a very large cage, you should not own one of these creatures. There are many zoos overflowing with exotic animals that people have released because they overestimated their ability to care for a wild creature.
Most states and countries have laws forbidding the ownership of wild animals, so the first step is to find out if this is legal in your area. Secondly, make sure you have access to a veterinarian who can treat your Kinkajou.
Feed you Kinkajou what they eat in the wild (see diet section above). Never give them table food, especially dairy, chocolate, or anything caffinated. The Kinkajou do not digest citrus fruits well, and they also have a problem with strawberries, so keep those away as well. Make sure you feed your Kinkajou in an area where they can make a mess. They are sloppy and playful eaters!
The Kinkajou lifespan is 20-25 years, but have been known to live longer in well protected areas, such as zoos or natural reserves.
For more information on the Kinkajou, go to Central Pets.