Bushy-tailed Olingo, Bassaricyon gabbii

The bushy-tailed olingo (Bassaricyon gabbii) is a species within the Procyonidae family, which includes raccoons. This species was the first to be described in its genus, and it is considered the only “true” olingo. It is native to Central and South America. Its northern range extends from Nicaragua to Ecuador in the south, and includes Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia in between. It prefers habitats within tropical moist forests at altitudes of up to 6,600. The bushy-tailed olingo holds three recognized subspecies.

The bushy-tailed olingo can reach an average body length between fourteen and sixteen inches, with a tail length of up to nineteen inches. The average body weight of this species is 2.4 pounds. The forelimbs are shorter than the hind limbs, and the body is slender. As the name suggests, the long tail is bushy. Both males and females bear anal glands that produce a foul odor when frightened.

This olingo’s fur is thick and colored brown or greyish-brown on most of the body. The underbelly is pale cream or yellow in color. The face bears a line of yellow fur that extends from the sides of the head and the throat, reaching to the base of the ears. The rest of the fur on its face is grey in color. The tail appears similar in color to the body, but it has a series of darker rings surrounding it. The paw pads bear fur and sharp claws.

The bushy-tailed olingo, although primarily solitary, has been known to live in pairs. They are nocturnal, arboreal creatures, spending most of their time in the trees. Their tails are not prehensile, unlike the tails of their relative, the kinkajou. These olingos will make their dens in trees. Their calls have been described as having two parts, a “wey-toll” vocalization and a “whey-chuck” vocalization. It is thought that the bushy-tailed olingo mates during the dry season in its range, producing one young after about ten weeks of pregnancy.

The diet of the bushy-tailed olingo consists mainly of fruits, specifically figs, but they will consume nectar and may hunt for small mammals if necessary. Common predators of this creature include tayras, ocelots, jaguarundi, and boas. In captivity, its average lifespan is twenty-five years. The bushy-tailed olingo appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery, Costa Rica – January 3, 2008. Credit: Jeremy Gatten/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 2.0)