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How are Kinkajous as pets | Realistic expectations about good and bad behavior

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Kinkajou are a lifelong passion of mine and after raising dozens in my home I have a good idea of their behavior as a captive pet. My first meeting with one when I was young set an instant attraction to these gentle fuzzy beings.






As babies they are puppy-like. Playful and eager to please. They jump, wrestle, chase, and seem to have endless energy, easily staying awake through the day when they should normally be sleeping.

They are undeniably adorable and can make your heart skip a beat when they snuggle with you. But, kinkajous are not perfect and have special needs which are discussed below.









This disruption in their natural sleep patterns is a big mistake I see with new kinkajou owners. They must be allowed to sleep while the sun is up and be left alone in their enclosure during this time. Small interactions during the day are best when they are routine, kinkajous can unintentionally hurt someone if startled awake.

A kinkajou is not the type of animal you can take with you in public, or to work. They should be following their natural sleep patterns as much as possible.




The feeding routine is important, kinkajous must eat all of their food in their enclosures. PERIOD. Feeding a kinkajou at your dinner table or other places in your house will encourage aggression towards people when food is present in those areas. When you are eating your kinkajou must be put up in his enclosure. This is to avoid aggression and food possessiveness.


How are kinkajous as pets


Kinkajous are not pets for children, they can become agitated or overly excited when children are in the area. They should be kept secure from strangers or unaccompanied children. Kinkajou will bond with their owners and want to keep a routine and stay in the same area. They will not appreciate meeting new people once they mature.



Puppy play and biting are very common for babies. This is so fun to play with their mouths and it is adorable to see them roll on their backs to play and bite on your fingers. However, if it is encouraged it will allow the kinkajou to put his teeth on you. It will directly encourage biting as an adult. We recommend only allowing fun play with your baby and not letting them play bite as much as possible. They can be entertained with other activities with you such as crinkle toys, chase or climbing.





Socializing is so important to do the right way. Kinkajous are notorious for becoming aggressive as they mature. This is because they cannot tell the difference between you and them. They think they are equal to you if you do not enforce rules and restrictions such as eating in their enclosure and letting them sleep through the day. Kinkajous must know they are kinkajous, they are not human babies and cannot be treated like one.


Kinkajous will be happiest when they are raised with the proper socialization for the first year and are able to spend the rest of their lives peacefully in the same general routine. If this is not something you are expecting from a kinkajou do not get one, you will encounter some severe problems and may have to rehome your kinkajou.


Babies must be trained daily in their routine and never allowed to do things that are not allowed as an adult such as biting or jumping





Kinkajous need an enclosure that they can be locked in securely. This is regardless of how much free time they have. This allows you to put them away during feeding, when you are gone, or when you need to keep them secured. This should be a place they are in daily and it should have their items, like toys hammocks, and only their stuff. This can be indoor if it is a large bird cage.


An outdoor enclosure can work very well as long as they have heat in the winter and ice water and shade in the summer. Walk-in enclosures are a favorite of mine and how we set up our kinkajous at JEAR.


Individual owners and even some licensed institutions with kinkajous portray them in an unrealistic manner on Social Media platforms. This is done without intent but it is only natural in the SM world to show content that is entertaining and usually without context.



Kinkajou Pet FAQ



What will make me successful with a kinkajou as a pet?



Get a baby from a breeder, under 6 months old. Kinkajous do not rehome well. Make a routine and schedule that you follow and make slight adjustments to overtime. Keep your baby asleep during the day and feed them a nutritious diet in their enclosure. Spend time with them in the early evening keeping daytime visits to a minimum frequency and duration. Only allow fun play. Keep them on a routine as much as possible and expect to spend time each day developing a relationship with your baby.



How do I know a kinkajou is right for me?



Ask yourself this question; why do you want a kinkajou? if the answer is to enjoy them as a nocturnal pet as we described above then you are in good shape. If you have very different expectations then you will experience challenges and a kinkajou may not be for you.




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