Imagine for a moment that you are sound asleep in your bed when you slowly wake up to the realization that something is in the bed with you. You come fully awake to see a wild animal sleeping on your chest, one that looks like a cross between a ferret and a monkey!
No, this isn't the plot of the latest Stephen King novel. This is something that actually happened to a 99-year-old woman in Miami. After consulting with a family friend, the woman learned that the animal was a kinkajou, which are rare in the U.S., but it's not uncommon to find them hiding in attics and other dark, quiet places.
Native to Central and South America, kinkajous are small rain forest-dwelling mammals that are most active at night. As mentioned they aren't common here, it's possible to get a permit to keep one as a pet. In fact, the bed-sharing kinkajou turns out to be pet that got away from its owner.
Kinkajous — or honey bears as they are sometimes called — have strong tails that they use for balance and climbing, similar to the way that monkeys use their tails. But they are not related to monkeys at all. Rather, kinkajous are more closely related to raccoons.
Some folks contend that kinkajous are not the best pets because they have sharp claws and teeth, and even when raised from babies they can be unpredictable.
But others argue that the playful, quiet and docile nature of the kinkajou makes it the perfect household pet. Like this guy who clearly thinks he's just one of the dogs:
As for the kinkajou found in Florida, after she was taken to the local vet, her owner saw the local news and was thrilled to see that his pet of five years was just fine. The kinkajou — whose name is Banana — had been missing for more than a week after escaping from a temporary cage.
So the story has a happy ending after all: The traumatized Banana ate some bananas is now back with her owner after a very odd time away.