Kinkajou Fact Sheet

Common Name:


Scientific Name:

Potos flavus

Wild Status:

Least Concern


tropical rainforest


Central and South America from Mexico to Brazil


Most of the time in trees

Life Span:

up to 40 years in captivity


24 inches long, 10 pounds

Cool Facts:

  • Kinkajous possess several unique adaptations to help them climb, including ankles that can rotate a full 180 degrees to allow them to climb down trees headfirst. They are also the only member of the Carnivora other than the binturong with a prehensile tail.
  • Even though kinkajous are sometime referred to as "honey bears" and captive individuals will readily consume honey, it has not been documented in the diet of wild kinkajous.
  • Humans will hunt kinkajous for their fur and meat, and some people keep them as exotic pets. They are not considered endangered, although they are threatened by deforestation.
  • While out foraging for food, kinkajous typically forage alone but will sometimes gather in groups. They are also known to sometimes associate with their close relative the olingo.


Kinkajous are arboreal mammals native to the rainforests of Central and South America. Despite bearing a slight resemblance to a monkey, kinkajous are actually members of the raccoon family. Like their raccoon cousins, kinkajous possess dextrous, grasping forepaws that end in five digits and are primarily nocturnal. Up to 90% of their diet is fruit, with the remainder made up of leaves, flowers, nectar, and insects. They can protrude their tongue up to five inches to lick up nectar and scoop out fruit pulp. Due to their frugivorous eating habits, kinkajous serve a vital role in the forest ecology serving as seed dispersers and pollinators.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Procyonidae Genus: Potos  Species: P. Flavus

Conservation & Helping:

Kinkajous are of least concern on the endangered species list.

For Teachers and Educators


Keep Exploring Defenders!