<p>Photo: Kinkajou holding a balsa blossom</p>

Resembling a small primate but actually related to the raccoon, the Central and South American kinkajou uses its long tongue to remove honey from beehives and nectar from flowers.

Photograph by Mattias Klum

Map

Map: Kinkajou range

Kinkajou Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Mammal
Diet:
Omnivore
Size:
Head and body, 17 to 22 in (43 to 56 cm); Tail, 16 to 22 in (41 to 56 cm)
Weight:
3 to 7 lbs (1 to 3 kg)
Group name:
Troop
Relative:
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man

Please add a "relative" entry to your dictionary.

Kinkajous live in the tropical forests of Central and South America, where they spend most of their time in the trees. They are able to turn their feet backwards to run easily in either direction along branches or up and down trunks. The kinkajou also has a prehensile (gripping) tail that it uses much like another arm. Kinkajous often hang from this incredible tail, which also aids their balance and serves as a cozy blanket while the animal sleeps high in the canopy.

Though many of its features and traits sound like those of a primate, the kinkajou is actually related to the raccoon.

Kinkajous are sometimes called honey bears because they raid bees' nests. They use their long, skinny tongues to slurp honey from a hive, and also to remove insects like termites from their nests. Kinkajous also eat fruit and small mammals, which they snare with their nimble front paws and sharp claws. They roam and eat at night, and return each morning to sleep in previously used tree holes.

Kinkajous form treetop groups and share social interactions such as reciprocal grooming. They are vocal animals—though seldom seen, they are often heard screeching and barking in the tropical forest canopy.

Female kinkajous give birth to one offspring in spring or summer. The baby is born with its eyes shut and cannot see for a month. It develops quickly, however, and by the end of the second month, it is already able to hang upside down from its tail.

Mammal Features

  • Picture of a panda chewing on bamboo

    Endangered Animals Quiz

    The loss of animal species is irreversible and potentially catastrophic, not to mention heartrendingly sad. Where do we stand? Face the facts with this quiz.

  • Picture of a Hawaiian monk seal

    Crittercam Helps Study Rare Species

    The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the oldest species of seal on the planet. But their tenure in paradise is perilously close to its end; only about 1,100 seals remain in the wild.

  • Picture of a Bryde's whale

    In Hot Pursuit

    They’re rarely seen. Even less often photographed. Bryde’s whales rocket through Pacific shallows to gorge on fish. Dive in for more.

  • Picture of an African lion

    Animal Conservation

    Find out what National Geographic Society is doing to save animals all over the world, and learn what you can do to help.

Animals A-Z


Animals A-Z