By Marla Lise

Scientific Name: Potos flavus

Kinkajous are also known as honey bears – sharing their name with the sun bear. They are often mistaken for ferrets or monkeys, and have the same bare hands and feet and prehensile tails that monkeys do – but these little honey-colored, honey-loving critters are actually related to red pandas and raccoons.

Kinkajous are found in most rainforest areas of South America. They are nocturnal and arboreal, meaning that they come out at night and spend most of their waking hours up in trees.

Kinkajou. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
They are omnivores, meaning that they eat both meat and plant material. They feed on fruit, flowers, leaves and sometimes eggs and small mammals as well. Kinkajous have a special characteristic that helps them to get termites from termite mounds, honey from hives and nectar from flowers. Can you guess what this is?

It’s their long tongue! A kinkajou’s tongue can grow up to 5 inches long.

These small creatures are difficult to see in the wild because they live in the forest canopy. They only grow to about 60cm, with their tail being almost the same length as their body. They are usually heard screeching and barking high up in the treetops.

Kinkajous are still listed as ‘least concern’ under the IUCN threatened animals list, however, their numbers are decreasing. They face threats such as habitat destruction through deforestation and human disturbance. They are also highly sought after as pets and for their fur and meat.


  • May I use graphics from for my projects? Yes, you may provided that you don't remove the mongabay label from the images. You may use information from the site for class projects and can cite mongabay as the source.
  • Is this web site credible? Mongabay is the world's most popular source for information on tropical forests. The site is highly acclaimed by a number of the world's leading tropical scientists. Mongabay Founder Rhett Butler has published several scientific papers.
  • Can I interview the founder of mongabay for my school project? Unfortunately Rhett is not available for interviews. However he has answered some common questions on the Rainforest Interview page.
  • Do you have any games or activities? Currently there are a few on the resources page.
  • How can I help save rainforests? Some ideas are listed at Rainforest Solutions.
  • Where can I learn more about rainforests? Check the main rainforest site.