Olingo - Bushy-Tailed, Rainforest Tree-Dweller
Olingos are bushy-tailed, rainforest-dwelling creatures commonly found in the jungles of Central and South America. Their closest animal relatives are the raccoon and the similar looking kinkajou. They are tree-living carnivora mammals who prefer high elevations, normally living as high as 2,000 meters above sea level. Unlike some other tree-climbing, monkey-like creatures, olingos don't have a prehensile tail - that is, a tail which they can use like a hand, to grab or climb with.
Interestingly, unlike some nocturnal animals, the olingo has a largely vegetarian diet. These yellow-brown herbivores live on a steady diet of fruit - mostly figs. It is only during the dry season, when there is not much else available to the olingo, that they will pursue living prey like mice and other small rodents.
Fact: olingos are threatened by a number of larger predators, including tayra, snakes and ocelots. The dangerous dense jungles they inhabit may explain why the olingo prefers to peacefully graze in the treetops at night, where it may be harder to spot, chase and catch a bushy-tailed olingo in a tree. They are up to 16 inches in length (41cm) but have a tail that can grow up to 19 inches (48cm)! Small and lightweight, they generally weigh less than 3 pounds - making them especially good at climbing even the most precarious and thin tree branches. Interestingly: one of the best defenses they have is a stinky chemical they can secrete from a gland in their anus to ward off would-be predators - think a skunk and a monkey combined!