Wrap Bear

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Wrap Bear

Wrap Bear ( Potos flavus )

Order : Predators (Carnivora)
Subordination : Canine (Caniformia)
Superfamily : Marten relatives (Musteloidea)
Family : Small bears (Procyonidae)
Genre : Potos
Type : Wrap Bear
Scientific name of the  genus
É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire & F. Cuvier , 1795
Scientific name of the  species
Potos flavus
( Schreber , 1774)

The Kinkajou ( Potos flavus ), sometimes honey bear called, is one in Central and South America living style of Small Bears (Procyonidae). It differs from all other small bears in that it has a long, easy-to-grip tail , which it can skillfully use for climbing. It lives in Central America and northern South America and feeds mainly on fruits . Wrap bears are nocturnal tree dwellers.


The head-torso length of the wrapped bear is about 40 to 60 centimeters, the tail is about 40 to 55 centimeters long. The weight is 1.4 to 4.6 kilograms, on average mostly 2 to 3 kilograms.

The back fur of the animals is woolly, short and brown. The hairline is usually yellowish to light brown, the tips are reddish brown. The back hair often has a reddish sheen, sometimes an additional black eel line . The peritoneum is yellow.

The round head is short, ears and snout do not protrude far. The eyes are relatively large, have a maroon iris and a large, round pupil. With them, furry bears can see well at night.

The rather short but strong legs have curved claws, which are connected to a third of the length with skins and with which the wrapped bear can climb well. The front paws are very dexterous and well suited for grabbing food and climbing. The hind paws are longer than the front paws.

A special feature is the narrow, long and widely protruding tongue, which is used to acquire food. The dental formula is that the dentition has 36 teeth.

The strong head and trunk muscles are only covered by loose skin. The skin often hangs down in folds.

Wrapped bear females only have 1 pair of teats due to their small litter size .

Distribution area and habitat

Distribution map of the tortoiseshell

Wrapped bears are inhabitants of tropical rainforests between the extreme south of Mexico and the south of Brazil at a maximum height of 2500 meters above sea level. They stay in the treetop regions and never voluntarily descend to the ground. Since they are also nocturnal, they are difficult for researchers to find.

Way of life

The nocturnal wrapped bears lead a tree-dwelling way of life and are skilled climbers. During the day they sleep in tree hollows, rarely they lie down on a branch or a network of lianas and leaves. They assume a typical sleeping position, in which they are curled up on their sides and put their paws protectively in front of their eyes. If they are frightened while they are eating at night, they stop eating and bark like dogs. If the enemy approaches further, they flee or defend themselves.

Social behavior

The social behavior is basically similar to that of predators and primates, depending on the aspect : They go in search of food alone and have this behavior in common with many predators (such as bears), but the animals regularly gather in large groups; trees with a large food supply can gather find a number of wrapped bears to eat. Since the natural hiding places in a tree are usually not sufficient for such a large number of wrapped bears, there are often several, sometimes up to five, in a single tree cavity. In groups of this kind, wrapped bears show some social behavior, including cleaning each other sometimes and playing with their young. On average, the mutual cleaning behavior takes about 6 minutes, the longest observed period of time was 28 minutes.

Outside of foraging in such gatherings, wrapped bears live in small family groups, which consist of a female, an adolescent cub (one to three years), a very young cub (max. One year) and two males. Some of these have family relationships, but conflicts arise regularly in the group, especially during the mating season. Among other things, the lack of mutual personal hygiene in these groups underscores the rather weak social ties.

The territory of a group covers about 30 to 50 hectares and is very strictly and intensively separated from neighboring territories by means of scent marks, mostly only the territories of males and family groups or individually living females overlap. The markings are made on the chin, throat and chest using scent glands.

Preparation of a tortoiseshell

The aspect of why male wrapped bears live in groups has not yet been clarified. One explanation is that it would be too costly to defend a territory alone that contains the territory of a female group and the male territory overlaps with a "single female" without this overlapping with the territory of the female group.


Foraging for food is quite easy for the wrapped bear in the treetops. On average, the food spectrum of wrapped bears comprises 90 percent fruit and 10 percent leaves as well as a very small amount of nectar . He gets the latter with his long tongue from flowers and also from bee nests. The proportion of these food components fluctuates depending on the location. Wrapped bears living in Panama are almost entirely vegetarian; elsewhere insects can make up an important part of the diet. Fleshy, sweet fruits are preferred, especially mangoes , figs , avocados , guavas and zapotes. However, the number of fruits ingested is considerably higher, in central Panama it is at least 78. Sometimes the wrapped bear also eats bird eggs, rarely chicks.

The kinkajou is for the bats , the most fixed on fruit food mammal. In comparison, the chimpanzees , orangutans and spider monkeys , mostly known as particularly intense fruit-eaters , have only about 70 percent fruit in their food spectrum.


The way wrapped bears climb is very noticeable: the long, strong tail is used heavily here. Among other things, they can use their tail to hang upside down from a branch in order to grab otherwise inaccessible fruit. In addition, when walking over branches, the tail is stretched straight back to maintain balance. When climbing up or down a trunk, they wrap their tails around the branches for protection.


Due to their similar way of life and diet, the wrapped bears occupy an ecological niche in the rainforest, which corresponds to that of capuchin monkeys . Both can coexist in this habitat, however, because wrapped bears are nocturnal, unlike capuchin monkeys.

Wrapped bears have few natural predators. Since they are mostly in the top regions of trees, they are rarely victims of predators like the jaguar . However, they are threatened by small South American cats such as long-tailed , ocelot and ocelot . Due to their nocturnal activity, they are also only a rare prey for birds of prey such as the harpy , while the owls in their habitat are too small to pose a threat to wrapped bears. Wrapped bears are not very shy of humans due to the low natural threats. Moreover, wrapped bears do not behave more cautiously on lighter nights than on normal nights.

Reproduction and development

The reproduction of wrapped bears is not tied to specific seasons. If the females are in a mating mood, they emit a sound similar to chirping, which may indicate submissiveness.

The males fight for the females in short fights, the winners then guard the local sexually mature females from the copulations of others and thus manage to carry out an average of 91.7 percent of the copulations on the local females. The predominant lineage is likely to be the paternal one. One of the reasons for this is that the females leave their birth group and the males are more sociable. Studies have also confirmed that neighboring males are more closely related than females.

Before copulation, the male stimulates the partner with a kind of massage on the flanks with the help of an oversized sesame bone .

After a gestation period of around 100 to 120 days , the female usually gives birth to a single young, twins are rare. The newborn weighs 150 to 200 grams and is about 30 centimeters long, the sparse, downy hair is silver-gray, the hair becomes black towards the tip. The pink belly is hairy, but so small that it looks naked. The first advanced perception of acoustic signals is after the opening of the ear canals between the 1st to the 5th day, the first perception of visual stimuli is possible after the opening of the eyes between the 7th and 19th day of life. At the age of seven weeks the young animal takes solid complementary food, after four months it is weaned and independent. The young animals are usually colored by the first year of life, sexual maturity occurs at 1.5 (males) or 2.25 years (females). The maximum age of an animal in captivity was 32 years.

When the young animal is frightened, it hisses; in the case of minor disturbances, it reacts with whining whistling, which turns into whining when it is used for a long time. The mother animal tries to appease her young animal in such cases with a chirping sound; the same sound is a call from the mother, which encourages the young animal to follow her. The young animal is carried by grabbing it by the throat.

Some dams do not join the small groups for rearing and raise their young alone, in this case the territory of the solitary female overlaps with the territories of males, but mostly not those that are also colonized by females.


The furry bear exists in 14 subspecies , which differ in skull and tooth features, body size and coat color.

When it was first described in 1774 by Johann Christian von Schreber , it was classified as Lemur flavus and placed in the order of the primates . Today his closest relatives are the Maki bears .

Wrapped bears and humans

From an economic point of view, the wrapped bear does not play a major role in people's lives, but its fur is still used today as a raw material for the manufacture of handbags and belts and its meat is valued as food by some Indian tribes. They do not cause any significant damage to plantations and are therefore not hunted intensively by industry. Wrapped bears play an important role as pets , especially in the area where they are found. They are occasionally offered in pet shops. If wild-caught animals are kept appropriately as young animals, they are usually open-minded for the rest of their lives, but they are difficult to tame and therefore often not tame. Due to their large distribution area, they are considered not threatened despite the hunt for them.


The German name Wickelbär probably comes from the ability, as a small bear, to use its tail when climbing, wrapping the branches around it. Since it is the only predator besides the Binturong that does this, this is mentioned in the name.

The term " Kinkajou " (English) or "Kinkaju" (German), which is used in English and sometimes also in German-speaking countries, is said to be based on the vocabulary of the Brazilian-Indian Tupi language .

In Mexico the wrapped bear is called " Mico de noche ", which means "moth".


  • Ronald M. Nowak: Walker's Mammals of the World . 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 1999, ISBN 0-8018-5789-9 (English).
  • Ronald Kays: Wrapped Bear. In: David MacDonald (ed.): The great encyclopedia of mammals. Könemann Verlag, Königswinter 2005, ISBN 3-8331-1006-6 , p. 92 f.
  • Bernhard Grzimek (ed.): Grzimeks animal life . Bechtermünz, ISBN 3-8289-1603-1 (unchanged reprint of the 1979/80 edition), p. 108 ff.

Web links

Commons : Wrappers  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. All statistical values ​​of the social behavior section from: Ronald Kays: Wickelbär in: David MacDonald (Hrsg.): The large encyclopedia of mammals. Könemann, Königswinter 2005, ISBN 3833110066 , p. 92 f
  2. All statistical values ​​of the nutrition section from: Ronald Kays: Wickelbär. In: David MacDonald (ed.): The great encyclopedia of mammals. Könemann, Königswinter 2005, ISBN 3833110066 , p. 92 f
  3. Statistical values ​​of the section Reproduction and Development from:
    • Ronald Kays: Wrapped Bear. In: David MacDonald (ed.): The great encyclopedia of mammals. Könemann, Königswinter 2005, ISBN 3833110066 , p. 92 f
    • Bernhard Grzimek (ed.): Grzimeks animal life . Bechtermünz, ISBN 3828916031 (unchanged reprint of the 1979/80 edition), p. 108 ff