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Kinkajous as Pets


Kinkajou photo


Drew Edwards

Other Names:

Honeybears or nightwalkers. Their scientific name is Potos flavus, but there are several subspecies, several of which might be found as pets.

Expected Life Span:

Usual range given is 20-25 years or so, although one at the Honolulu Zoo lived to be a little over 40 years.


The size varies somewhat among the subspecies, but in general the body length usually falls somewhere between 16 and 25 inches, tail is another 15-20 inches. Kinkajous usual weigh up to about 8 pounds (some are lighter and it depends a bit on the subspecies).

Kinkajou Facts:

Kinkajous are nocturnal tree-dwellers (in the wild they spend most of their time in the treed canopy of rainforests). They have prehensile tails which help with climbing, and although they kind of resemble monkeys they are actually members of the same family as raccoons, coatimundis, and red pandas (among others). Their wild populations are declining due to habitat destruction, hunting, and the illegal pet trade. In the wild, it appears they primarily eat fruit and nectar.

What to Expect from a Pet Kinkajou:

If hand raised from an young age, they can be quite tame, but remember they are wild animals. They are active and curious, and they like to get into things. They are nocturnal and are most active in the late evening. While they do not have much of an odor, they can be messy, partly from tossing food around and partly because litter/house training isn't really feasible (they do tend to pick a few favorite toilet areas). They can also be territorial, especially when it comes to food.


Kinkajous can be quite noisy at times, especially when defending their food source. Howver, they have a variety of vocalizations that include a soft huffing, chirping or whistling, a "barking" noise (like a yelping dog), and a shrill shriek that can be very loud (a feeding call).


Kinkajous need a large tall cage (e.g. 4 feet wide, by 6-8 feet long, and 6 feet tall--the larger the better). Provide lots of branches, ledges/shelves, and ropes for climbing. Kinkajous need lots of play and exercise time outside of their cage daily as well, for socialization and preventing boredom. Most owners find it best to confine kinkajous at night (when kinkajous are most active and their owners are trying to sleep) and when they are not supervised.

Furnishing the Cage:

Providing a number of sturdy branches, thick cotton ropes, and ledges allows lots of exercise. In addition you can try a variety of toys in the cage too, such as hanging wood/rope parrot toys and wide pieces of PVC pipe. Hammocks or sleep sacks can also be hung in the cage. An opaque plastic storage container with a hole cut in the side and suspeded from the walls of the cage can be used as a nest box. A wooden box can also be used, but may be difficult to clean if soiled.

Other Accessories:

Heavy ceramic food bowls or a bowl that can be securely attached to the side of the cage might are good for feeding. Kinkajous can be messy at feeding time and anything that keeps them from dumping their food is ideal. Water can be provided in a bowl but these are prone to being dumped or dirtied, so a heavy water bottle with a sipper tube might work better (make sure your kinkajou figures out how to drink from the sipper tube before completely making a switch though).


Kinkajous primarily feed on fruits and nectar in the wild, although if the opportunity arises, they will sometimes eat insects, eggs, and frogs along with other plants and blossoms. In captivity, they can be fed monkey biscuits or chow, and a variety of fruits (especially tropical fruits) such as bananas, papayas, mangoes, melons, kiwis, grapes, pineapple, pomegranates, cherimoya, figs, etc. It is said that some are allergic to strawberries so these are best avoided, and experts recommend avoiding citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, and avocadoes. Dairy products should also be avoided. Chocolate and caffeine should never be given (to any pet).

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