The Kinkajou (Potos flavus) as a pet.

Kinkajou's have been a popular staple in the exotic pet hobby for several decades. Just what makes these unusual animals such tempting additions to pet owners homes?

A Kinkajou is a monkey like mammal native to the south American rainforests. They are a member of the Procyonidae (pro-SEE-on-i-dee) family along with the olingo, raccoon, coatimunda and formerly the Red Panda until the Red Panda was recently reclassified into a different family.

The kinkajou has a long slender ferret like body, rounded ears, large round brown eyes and a long prehensile tale. They are covered with short, soft and very dense blond to brown fur, and have a very faint but not very noticeable odor (you tend to notice it when you first get them, after that it is almost unnoticeable… very faint, almost like a wet towel smell).

Their paws are very primate like with clawed fingers that are just as nimble as any monkey's fingers. The paws are very wide, giving the Kinkajou an almost comical look as they run on the ground… but very well suited for quick and nimble climbing of trees.

The lifespan is well in excess of 20yrs, so take heed… you'll have your pet Kinkajou for many years. This is something I need to stress, these animals should stay in one home versus being bounced around from home to home due to people buying on impulse and not thinking their new family addition through.


The Kinkajou can be a very friendly, playful and affectionate pet but there are many considerations to be made. First and foremost, is your house Kinkajou safe?

A Kinkajou will climb furniture; jump from person to person, from furniture to furniture. You may need to make sure that you do not have any fragile decor in harms way. While they are not destructive, they may accidentally knock items off tables while exploring or raid the kitten of fruit laying out.

While their claws are large and sharp, they are pretty good about not leaving their owners scratched up like some cats will do. Not to say that you will not have scratches on you from them climbing on you, but personally I don't notice any discomfort by this… and even enjoy the way it feels when they jump to my back and climb to my shoulder.

If you have a fear of having things wrapped around your neck, look at another animal. Expect your kinkajou to use your neck as a convenient anchor for his tail while he uses your body as his personal jungle gym. Again, I find this pleasant… but some people are uncomfortable with this.

Waking on the wrong side of the tree.
The Kinkajou is a nocturnal animal, this means that they sleep all day and wake up at night. I've noticed that they wake up near 7-8pm and are active most of the night into early morning. Keep this in mind when considering these as pets, if you have a small house and are a light sleeper you may not be the best candidate for a Kinkajou as a pet.

When woken during the day, most Kinkajou can be a bit crabby (can you blame them). I will see some that even then, are gentle, but you still must be considerate of their need to sleep during the day. Plan your playtime for after they get up at night.

Are you a neat freak?
Potty training is not something that you should expect from your pet Kinkajou. They are prone to use high perches to go to bathroom, but over time you will get a feel on where to place a perch and litter box and avoid some messes. They may also pee on you when perched on your shoulder… so remember to give them potty breaks and praise them when they go potty in their cage from their perch so they can get some understanding that it is ok to pee in their cage and not your shoulder (but accidents will still happen, and they pee enough to wet your entire shirt).

Kinkajou Housing:
The best recipe for success is to prepare a Kinkajou room, similar to what most parrot owners would set up for their birds, where your kinkajou's cage will reside. This will allow you to open your kinkajou's cage (or allow you to not use a cage at all) and let your Kinkajou play freely without making a mess when you don't have the energy to look after him.

I'd recommend lining the floor of your Kinkajou room with ceramic tile, vinyl tile so that any accidents can be cleaned up easily. Cat trees, ropes and bird toys can then be equipped to provide your little rascal hours of amusement.

If you prepare properly, you'll enjoy having one of these amazing creatures share in your life. This doesn't mean that people that do not have an entire room to devote to their pet will fail at long-term ownership of a Kinkajou, but it will increase the chances of a happy experience.

Kinkajou Diet
Feeding will consist of Primate Biscuit (many pet shops will sell this as Parrot Biscuit), Banana, Mango, Grapes, dry dog food and various other fruits. Never feed Chocolate to any pet, and do not feed Strawberry, Citrus (orange, grapefruit, lime, lemon) or Avocado to any Kinkajou.

Dog owners beware, if you have grapes that fall out of your animals cage.. these can cause kidney failure if ingested by your dog. You may want to use seed guards on the bottom of a large 6ft tall macaw cage to prevent this from happening.

Kinkajou vs. your Other Pets.
If you have dogs and cats in your home, you need to be sure that your animals will not be aggressive towards another animal. If you have a dog that wants to eat small animals, pass up the kink as a pet.. you will go out of your mind trying to balance play time between the two.

Knowing your limitations is critical when owning any pet. Read this material and make an honest attempt to think your purchase through. Animals have emotions and feelings similar to any human and they deserve to be cared for and be happy their entire lives. If you do not have the time or patience to give an animal out of cage play time (and I'm not talking 15 minutes a day folks) then you have no business purchasing a new pet. I'm going to try to feel you out when you are buying from me, and yes… I will turn down the chance to make a buck if I feel that you are getting in over your head.

For people that think that they want a Monkey… forget the primates and research the Kinkajou. They are monkey like without the aggression, smell and disease issues of a primate. Not to say that a Kinkajou can't or won't bite, but a well raised Kinkajou can be a truly good pet… where a Monkey NEVER will be a "GOOD" pet, and will be down right dangerous around strangers. Yes, more primate angst from me!

Thank you,
Ken Walker of Ken's Exotics

<--- Back to Exotic Animal Care Sheets


      About Exotic Pets