Kinkajous in Nosara
The kinkajou, also known as the ‘honey bear’ is a rainforest mammal related to coatis and raccoons. Famously once photographed poking out of the bag of Paris Hilton, kinkajous, due to their docile and friendly nature have been increasingly valued by the pet trade, where exotic pet collectors are willing to pay high prices. Often mistaken for ferrets, and even monkeys, the kinkajou is a vegetarian, tree dwelling mammal, native to Central and South America. Their altitudinal range stretches from ground level up to 3000 feet, where they can be found in closed-canopy tropical forests of all types.
One of their favorite foods is honey from bees nests, where they use their long tongue to scoop out the nectar. Kinkajous generally hang out in small family groups and share social interactions such as reciprocal grooming. They are vocal animals, and their screeching and barking in the tropical forest canopy means they are often heard before they are seen.
Females usually give birth to one baby in spring or summer. Although the baby is born blind, and entirely reliant on the mother for the first few weeks, they develop quickly. By the end of the second month, it is already able to hang upside down from its tail.
As with most central american wildlife, deforestation is a potential threat to these creatures. Although the kinkajou is not listed as an endangered species, and is commonly known to inhabit tree tops in and around Nosara and Playa Guiones, its small size and nocturnal nature means it is seldom seen by people. However, these guys are usually active between sunset and midnight, and if you hear rustling above you during your walk home, a quick glance into the trees may reveal one of these cute mammals staring right back down at you.
Take a look below for more interesting facts about kinkajous:
-In some circles kinkajous are thought to be great housepets. Soon thereafter, the owner usually realizes the hard way, that as well as being mellow, friendly and affectionate, they can also get angry, and inflict a gnarly bite.
-Kinkajous grow between 16 and 30 inches in length, and weigh between 3 and 10 pounds.
-They have a smooth wooly pelt, golden on top and grey underneath.
-The reason their common nickname is “honey bear’ is self explanatory. They look like bear cubs and love to eat honey.
-Kinkajous can rotate their ankles on their hind feet backwards, giving them the unique ability to move face first up and down along tree trunks.
-Their prehensile tails basically serve as an extra arm, and are used to hold onto branches, and maintain balance when scurrying through the treetops.
-Kinkajous are totally nocturnal, preferring to avoid the daytime heat by hiding in hollowed out trees.
-Kinkajous are mainly omnivores. Their plant and animal based diet consists of figs, melons, mangoes, apples, bananas, insects, birds, eggs, and occasionally small mammals.
-Kinkajous are important catalysts for pollinating Costa Rican ecosystems. They spend their days sucking back nectar from different flowers, thus transferring pollen from one place to another.
-Their main predators are eagles, ocelots, foxes, jaguars, and humans.
-In the day time they like to go it alone. At night time, they return to their group to sleep together, and groom each other.
-They’re vocalizations include barking, screaming, hissing and high pitched squeaks.
-Kinkajous use scent glands located in their mouth, throat and belly to mark their territory.
-Kinkajous hate sudden movements, noise, and being woken up during the day. If startled or threatened a kinkajou may use its teeth and claws to attack.
-Kinkajous are heavily hunted by humans for their fur and for the exotic pet industry.