The Discreet Kinkajou
Not rare, but hard to come by, the kinkajou (Potos flavus) is a small, honey-colored, nocturnal rainforest mammal related primarily to the raccoon. On average, the kinkajou weighs four to seven pounds but can range anywhere from three to ten. To compensate for its small body, the kinkajou has a tail around twenty inches long. This animal uses its tail as a fifth arm, usually to hang from branches or help with balance. The kinkajou lives in the rainforest canopy of Central and South America spending most of its time sleeping in tree holes and rarely comes to the ground. It is rarely seen by humans because of its strong nocturnal habits rarely see it.
Although they are rarely seen, kinkajous have a wide variety of vocalizations that can be heard throughout the forest’s canopy. Their shrill barks and screams have been said to resemble a woman’s scream. Kinkajous usually scream when they are going to attack because of agitation. Kinkajous also make a kissing sound when they are happy or interested. Another form of communication is by scent. Kinkajous have large scent glands near their mouth, throat, and stomach. These glands allow the animal to mark its territory and travel routes.
Despite the fact that kinkajous are classified in the order carnivora, (order that contains powerful jaws and teeth adapted for stabbing, tearing and eating flesh) they are primarily frugivores. Frugivores feed primarily on fruit. About ninety percent of the kinkajou’s diet consists of fruit. The other ten percent is made up of invertebrates, small mammals, and eggs. The kinkajou has a five-inch slender tongue to help it access fruit in smaller areas. This animal is also the only carnivore that also acts as an important pollinator. When collecting nectar they also collect pollen on their faces and transfer it to other flowers.
Kinkajous have a different social structure than most animals. A troop, or family consists of a...