Bassaricyon – Olingos

Native to Central and South America (Nicaragua to Peru) are some of the rarest animals that you can encounter

Olingos are fascinating small carnivores native to the forests of Central and South America, not the desert as previously described. This misinterpretation highlights the diversity within the Procyonidae family, which also includes raccoons, coatis, and kinkajous. Olingos, often mistaken for their close relatives, the Olinguitos (Bassaricyon neblina), or even kinkajous due to their similar appearance, are nocturnal creatures that play a unique role in their ecosystem. They possess a slender body, a long bushy tail with rings, and resemble a mix between a small fox and a raccoon, though they are more closely related to the latter.

Olingos are adept climbers, utilizing their physical attributes to navigate the dense canopy of the rainforest. Their long, prehensile tails serve as an essential tool for balance as they move through the treetops, searching for food or escaping predators. This tail, combined with their agile bodies and sharp claws, enables them to maneuver through the forest with ease.

Their remarkable ability to rotate their rear feet 180 degrees allows for unparalleled traction when descending trees or navigating complex arboreal routes. This unique adaptation, along with their capability to “stem” – a climbing technique where the animal uses opposing forces with its limbs against vertical surfaces to ascend narrow passages – showcases the olingo’s specialized nature as a climber.

Olingos primarily feed on fruits, nectar, and occasionally small mammals or birds, playing a vital role in seed dispersal and pollination within their habitats. By consuming fruits and transporting seeds to new locations, they contribute to the regeneration and health of their forest environments. Their foraging behavior also impacts the structure of the forest canopy, encouraging biodiversity through the spread of various plant species.