I HELD A KINKAJOU
By, J.E. Rogers
When did you last hold a Kinkajou?
Not a fair question you say, and you’re probably right. Not many people have seen one let alone held one.
I was traveling the last ten days, and I had the opportunity to visit with some rescued big cats at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. I’ll be writing another blog post about that trip, but not this week. However, while I was at Big Cat Rescue, I was informed that many of the cats there were rescued from people who thought they could keep a serval, a lynx, or other big cat as a pet. Seems crazy, but people do crazy things. The thought of people owning these animals as pets brings me back to the Kinkajou. It’s one of those kinds of animals that is so cute that you want to hold it and keep it.
Just look at that face!
Photo credit: Petscentral.com
Yup, he’s adorable, and they are sweet by nature, but they do NOT make good pets, and should NOT be taken from the wild for the pet trade.
Although this animal is not listed as endangered by the IUCN*, it is continually, and illegally removed from its natural habitat to satisfy people’s desire to own one as a pet.
So let’s take a look at the Kinkajou and learn a bit about them. You may come to agree with me; these animals are most beautiful when in the wild, and that’s where they need to stay.
Illustration credit: Wikipedia.com
The Kinkajou is also known as a ‘honey bear.’ It’s an odd moniker, and in researching their eating habits, I have found mixed information. Some say that they have never been seen eating honey and other articles say they are fond of raiding hives and eating honey, licking it out of the hives with their long tongues. Umm… I can tell you one thing for certain; they enjoy eating nectar, which is very sweet.
Photograph by Mattias Klum
They are considered carnivores and will eat small mammals such as lizards, and birds, but they prefer to eat fruit. They will also eat termites and other insects. They are nocturnal, and that’s when they do all their hunting and eating. At dawn, they return to the treetops to rest.
Photo credit: Alexandria Zoo
They are most closely related to raccoons and are found in the rainforests of southern Mexico, Central America, and South America. Their sharp claws and prehensile tails make them well suited to their arboreal life. They can weigh up to seven pounds and grow to twenty-two inches in length. Their tail can be as long as their body, and it serves to balance them as the dart along tree limbs and branches. They also use their tail like an arm and hang from it, or even curl it around themselves for warmth. They can turn their feet backward, which allows them to hang upside down and run both forward and backward on tree branches.
Let’s take a look at this unusual mammal in action.
Oh, I almost forgot. I did actually hold a Kinkajou.
If you’d like to learn more about the Kinkajou, visit the following sites:
*IUCN = International Union for Conservation of Nature
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Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland and
One Hot Mess, A Child’s Environmental Fable
Where Endangered Animals Heroes Roam the Pages!