Kinkajous are a little weird if you ask me! They’re sort of like a Raccoon, sort of like a Coatimundi, and sort of like a Ferret or Weasel, too. They’ve got a cute, expressive face, “hands” like a Coati or Raccoon, and a long tail like both. Never heard of one? Read on!
Kinkajous (Potos flavus), sometimes called Honey Bears, are friendly, sociable creatures who love to play with their owners. They belong to the same family as Raccoons, but have a prehensile tail like a monkey! They have a really long tongue which they use to reach nectar deep inside flowers, and to get the last bit of goodness from fruit.
They’re nocturnal in the wild, and live in the tree canopy where they can easily get to the fruits they love, and where they’re safe from ground predators like Jaguars.
They’re pretty long-lived, averaging 20 to 25 years, so they’re not a pet you want to get on an impulse! They’re also VERY good with those little hands, and keeping one contained is quite challenging. A minimum size cage for a Kinkajou is 4 feet wide by 6 by 6 feet, and so they’re not exactly an apartment pet!
Your pet will need lots of perches, hanging bags or hammocks, and fun toys like the ones you can find for parrots. They need lots of time out of their cage to climb and explore, too. They’ll groom your hair, and lick your fingers, and climb on you if you stand still. For some of us, these aren’t bad things, but many people don’t care for the ‘close contact’ sort of pets!
A Kinkajou could be a really fun pet, but the sad part of the story is that the illegal pet trade is most responsible for their declining numbers in the wild. There are reputable breeders who hand-raise the babies that they sell, and if you’re dead-set on having one, that’s definitely the way to go.
They are messy (about like a parrot) because they do tend to toss food around, and they don’t potty-train to one spot, and these are important considerations to any home-owner. Their diet in captivity is monkey chow or biscuits, along with a lot of fresh, tropical fruits. Avoid strawberries, though, and citrus fruits!