As with many small mammals in South America, the kinkajou lives primarily in trees, hangs by its tail, and loves to eat fruit and honey. However, the kinkajou (Potos flavus) is not a primate. Actually more closely-related to raccoons, kinkajous are one of only two members of the Carnivora order with prehensile tails, the other being the binturong.
Fully-grown kinkajous weigh 3-10lbs and have a total body length of 16-24 inches. In addition, their powerful tails may equal or exceed their bodies in length. Kinkajous have five toes on each foot and possess the ability to turn their back feet backwards. This allows them to descend trees headfirst.
Despite being grouped as carnivores, most of the kinkajou’s diet is made up of ripe fruit such as figs as well as honey. Small mammals, insects, and eggs are also eaten as well as flowers and nectar. The kinkajou’s particular feeding habits make it an important pollinator in the rainforest ecosystem.
Kinkajous live in rainforest canopy ranging from southern Mexico to much of northern South America. They are nocturnal animals that usually forage alone in the dark of night, returning to sleep in tree holes with a family unit during daylight hours. Kinkajous breed throughout the year and can live for well over twenty years.
The longest-lived kinkajou on record reached 41 years of age.
Kinkajous are occasionally kept as exotic pets.
Carnivore Preservation Trust