(Potos Flavus)

The kinkajou’s small, hand-like feet have fingers that are a bit webbed and end with sharp little claws. Dense, wooly fur acts as a raincoat to help keep a kinkajou dry. The kinkajou’s tail is longer than its head and body and is thickly furred and slightly prehensile. The tail is for balance, to hold onto branches while reaching for food, and even to snuggle with while sleeping. Kinkajous can hang by the tip of their strong tail, then turn their body in such a way that they can climb back up their own tail. While they look like monkeys and share some of the same traits as them, kinkajous are not primates. They are actually related to raccoons, coatis, ringtails, and olingos.

The scientific name for the kinkajou is Potos flavus. This roughly translates to golden drinker, as the kinkajou has a golden-brown coat and is fond of nectar. The common name kinkajou comes from a word that means “honey bear,” as kinkajous raid beehives for the golden liquid. They use their long, skinny tongues to slurp honey from a hive, and also to remove insects like termites from their nests. Kinkajous also eat fruit and small mammals, which they snare with their nimble front paws and sharp claws.

Kinkajous live in the tropical forests of Central and South America, where they spend most of their time in the trees. They are able to turn their feet backwards to run easily in either direction along branches or up and down trunks. Kinkajous often hang from their incredible tail, which aids their balance and serves as a cozy blanket while the animal sleeps high in the canopy.

During the day, kinkajous find a hollow or crook in a tree to sleep or hide in; they may use the same spot or a new one each day. Their spine is quite flexible, allowing them to curl into tight spots. Kinkajous come out at night to stretch and scratch before beginning their quest for food. Kinkajous are important pollinators. As they travel from flower to flower to drink nectar, the flower’s pollen sticks to their face and then smears off at the next flower.

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