Olingos: Profile and Information


The genus Bassaricyon is made up of little Neotropical procyonids, popularly called olingos. The olingos are native to the Central and South America rainforests from Nicaragua to Peru.

These animals who look like cousins to the kinkajou are nocturnal and arboreal and reside at elevations from sea level to 2,750 m.

Some of the most notable similarities between the olingos and kinkajou are the close resemblance in habits and morphology, though they do not have prehensile tails and extrudable tongues, and they have more extended muzzles, as well as anal scent glands.

The olingos also look like galagos and some lemurs.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Procyonidae
  • Genus: Bassaricyon


  • Bassaricyon alleni
  • Bassaricyon gabbii
  • Bassaricyon medius
  • Bassaricyon neblina

Genetic studies have revealed that the closest relatives of the olingos, not precisely the kinkajou but the coatis.

The divergence between the two species is estimated to have happened during the Tortonian age, about 10.2 million years (Ma) ago, while the kinkajous later split off from the other extant procyonids during the Aquitanian age, about 22.6 Ma ago.

Thus we can say that the similarities between kinkajous and olingos are an example of parallel evolution.


The olingos reside in tropical evergreen forests that is below 2,000 m in elevation.


The Olingo are found from southern Nicaragua to Ecuador and to the east of the Andes from Venezuela and Guyana to Bolivia in the western part of the Amazon basin.

Physical Description

The olingos are a solitary mammal that has drab brown, soft, long, dense fur, with the hair on top of its head looking darker.

The underside of this animal is paler than it’s upper side. The olingo is blessed with large, round brown eyes that are simply adorable and have a bright eyeshine. They also have small ears and a very long tail that is longer than the length of its head and body.

One way you can distinguish this nightcrawler from the kinkajou is that the olingo’s tail is banded and nonprehensile; the olingo also goes around with its tail straight out behind it when it has to travel, While the kinkajou, on the other hand, keeps its tail curled around branches as it travels.

A kinkajou is also a lot more weighty than an olingo, packing twice the weight of an olingo. The fur of an olingo is even longer and less reddish, and of course, they do not have a prehensile tail like the kinkajou.

Biology and Natural History

There are six species of olingo in South and Central America, and they all have minor differences from each other. Another fact about the olingo apart from them being a nocturnal, arboreal omnivore, is that they are related to the raccoon.

Agile and very active, the olingo is known to stay high in the canopy, and light passing through tree branches, feeding very quickly, and then moving on. The olingo is a noisy traveler but not as loud as the kinkajou.

Olingos will use an alarm call if need be, and less often, they use a sneezing vocalization. Olingos may feed in the same trees that kinkajous and night monkeys feed on, but adult olingos usually forage alone and have been identified as less social than kinkajous.

In the day time, olingos will shelter in hollow trees where they relax and prepare for their nightlife. A female olingo will have a single baby olingo after a 73-74 day gestation period, and the baby is usually small and gray-brown with almost invisible dark stripes.

The olingo maybe cousins with the kinkajou; they are not as adaptive as the kinkajou to various forest or human-use areas. Perhaps it is because of this that the olingo is not found as commonly as the kinkajou, even though they are still widespread.

Also, the olingo is not as hunted as the kinkajou, but it is still very threatened species because of deforestation.


A lot like the kinkajous, olingos feed on fruit (especially figs), invertebrates, and small vertebrates, and in the dry season, these animals also suck out nectar from some flowers such as balsa. Kinkajous are carnivorous, but not as much as the olingo.


The head and body length of the olingo is generally 0.36 to 0.41 m, with a tail that is either as long or longer, of 0.37 to 0.52 m. Adults olingos weigh 1.1-1.4 kg.

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