The Kinkajou (Potos flavus), also known as the Honey Bear, is a species of mammal found in the rainforests of Central and South America. It is the only member of the family genus Potos. It is related to the olingo, ringtail, cacomistle, raccoon, and coati. These animals are sometimes mistaken for ferrets or monkeys, but are not related. The name Honey Bear is derived from the fact that in captivity it will eat honey, however, in the wild it has never been observed to do so.
An adult Kinkajou weighs 4 to 7 pounds and is 17 to 22 inches in length. It also has a 16 to 22 inch long tail. Its wooly fur consists of an outer coat of gold or brownish-gray overlapping a gray undercoat. The Kinkajou has a slender 5 inch long tongue that can be extruded to obtain fruit and to lick nectar from flowers. Although the Kinkajou has sharp teeth (used by meat eaters), its diet consists mainly of fruit. It will, however, eat bananas, pineapple, nectar, honey, insects, grapes, mangos, melons, peas, and has been known to eat some bird eggs, as well as larger insects and an occasional bird. The Kinkajou also has a short-haired, fully prehensile tail that it uses as a “fifth hand” in climbing. It does not use it for grasping food. It also has scent glands near the mouth, on the throat, and on the belly which it uses to mark their territory.
The Kinkajou is nocturnal and the peak activity usually occurs between 7 pm and midnight, and then again an hour before dawn. During the daylight hours, the Kinkajou sleeps in tree hollows or in shaded tangles of leaves, and avoid direct sunlight. The Kinkajou communicates with a variety of vocalizations. Its loudest call is shrill and sounds like that of a screaming woman. The Kinkajou also has an excellent sense of touch and smell. Its vision, however, is quite poor and it cannot differentiate between colors. Kinkajous breed year round and give birth to one or two small babies after a gestation period of 112 to 118 days.