I was just browsing, searching for nothing in particular, when I came across a photograph of what looked like, well, Pingu (the cartoon) with brownish black fur glued on to him! Absolutely delectable in a queer way, the photo seemed doctored so I looked them up. And lo! Mr.Pingu-with brown fur did exist, and are called by the name of Kinkajous.
These kinkajous, more commonly known as nightwalkers or honeybears, are also known by the scientific name of Poto Flavus, have several subspecies, many of which are docile and kept as pets. Now, having said that these are kept as pets does not mean that all of us can afford them. Kinkajous are extremely expensive and being exotic, are also rare. They live up to 25 years in the wild but according to recent reports, one of them staying in the Honolulu zoo is a little more than 40 years old.
Now, as I have mentioned earlier, they have several subspecies and they vary in size. However, to consider an approximation, their length ranges between 16 to 26 inches with the tail growing up to 20 inches. Quite a tail, I must say! Kinkajous are small pets, and weigh around 8 or 9 pounds.
Before embarking upon actually purchasing one of these delectable creatures, it sure is imperative to know what they really are. Kinkajous are nocturnal creatures. They reside in the treed canopy of the rainforest areas, and needlessly to say, they are tree-dwellers with prehensile tails which assist them in climbing. They do share a lot of characteristics with monkeys in general but they are actually related to racoons, red pandas and also coatimundis. Nectar and fruits are what you can call their staple food in the wilderness.
Now, let me tell you that if you intend to keep a Kinkajou as pet, it is probably advisable to adopt them at an early age when they are quite compliant and not to mention, friendly. However, whatever be the age at which you bring home one of these, you must remember that they are primarily wild animals and their habits and habitat are different from ours. You, first and foremost, need to be flexible with them and the less you expect them to change, the better it is for them physically and psychologically. To adduce this, you might consider that they are, by nature, nocturnal so you might get the most activity in the latter part of the evenings or even past your bedtime. They are, like monkeys, extreme curious and they tend to get into things and create quite a mess. They like to toss food around, and in case you plan to keep more than one, they can be quite territorial and you might as well expect quite a ruckus during mealtimes. Kinkajous, sadly( for you, of course!), cannot be litter-trained however much you try. The best that you can expect from them is to find some favourite toilet areas where they would like to frequent, and hope that their favourite spaces do not collide with your favourite parts of the room.
As said earlier, with kinkajous around, you can expect to have a noisy household. In fact, it will be just like having two or three mischievous boys in their early teens creating what you can call a cacophony in an otherwise quiet household. For that matter, you must do what you would have done if you had three teen-aged boys; put them in a leash! I mean, seriously. You cannot let them round around unattended. Kinkajous need a large tall cage, not less than six feet tall and more than five to six feet wide. Now, what you need to do is to create a pseudo-habitat for them inside their cages, and the more elaborate you can be with the whole cage thingy, the happier will your pets be. For that matter, you need to provide an assortment of branches, shelves and even ropes for climbing. In addition to that, you might also want to include a variety of toys, hanging wood and even wide( so that your pets do not try to swallow them) pieces of PVC pipes. You can also hang something akin to hammocks or sleep sacks. A nest box is also important, so you might try placing an opaque plastic container with a hole cut in one of the sides and suspended from the walls of the cage. You need to remember that kinkajous are hyperactive and need to play to get rid of their excess energy or they will, for sure, create quite a ruckus. Now, you need to know that however elaborate you make their cages, they will need to be taken out on a regular basis. What would be the most feasible thing to do, I think, is to let them out for a few hours during the day and confine them during the night when, due to their being nocturnal, they are most active and will tend to irritate you by their incessant slow huffing, chirping to whistling, barking( quite close), and even shrieking out loud to defend their food.
Now that we have heard about kinkajous fighting and turning territorial for food, I think we should know about what to feed them as well. In the wilderness, alongside nectar and fruits, they are used to eat a variety of insects, frogs, and eggs. However, in captivity, you might endeavour to make their food a tad bit more delicious by providing them with an assortment of biscuits, chow, fruits like figs, cherimoya, pomegranates, pineapple, grapes, kiwis, melons, mangoes, papayas and even bananas. It is best to avoid chocolates and dairy products since kinkajous have trouble ingesting milk.
Kinkajous, if you do manage to adopt one, are extremely rewarding pets, and will ensure a lively household with their chatter and endless prattle. To say the least, you can never be or even feel lonely when you are around these creatures.