Kinkajous are small, exotic mammals native to the forests of Central and South America. Related to raccoons and coatis, kinkajous are actually the only species in the genus Potus and are quite unique. They have long slender bodies, similar to otters, yet live primarily in trees and use their monkey-like tail to help navigate the canopy. Kinkajous are nocturnal, with very large eyes and a soft golden-brown coat.
- Skill level:
Research kinkajous as much as you can. As with any exotic animal you need to know as much as possible about a kinkajou's diet, behavior and habitat before you decide it's a compatible pet to take into your home. Exotic pets are not for impulse buyers. Many people buy them on a whim, only to realize later down the road that they simply don't have the time or resources to care for them. Kinkajous are nocturnal animals and sleep most of the day. At night they're very active and want to roam about. This may be a great pet if you're a single person who works most of the day.
Check with your local government agencies to see if kinkajous are legal to keep as pets where you live. A local health department is a good place to start. Laws governing exotic pet ownership vary from state to state. Just because you can find a kinkajou to buy in your area doesn't mean it's legal to do so. And if you find one while traveling out of state, don't assume you can legally take it back home.
Visit nearby animal shelters and your humane society. They can keep you up to date on legal issues and assist you in your search. Since so many exotic pets end up in shelters or sanctuaries, they may suggest you adopt a kinkajou in need of a home rather than buy one from a pet store. This is a very humane alternative, and much less costly as well.
Be wary of sellers who advertise free pets, and those who charge unreasonable prices. Kinkajous are expensive but they shouldn't cost a fortune, and they shouldn't be given away either. This could indicate the seller is dealing illegally, or there is something wrong with the animal.
Be absolutely certain that there is a veterinarian in your area who is willing and qualified to treat your kinkajou. Don't assume you'll be able to find someone at the last minute, or in an emergency.
Set up an area for your kinkajou before bringing it home. Although they only weigh between 5 and 10 pounds, they're very playful and intelligent and need plenty of room. Since they're quite intelligent animals, they'll also be mischievous at times so have a cage or pet carrier to keep it in while no one's at home. Kinkajous can't tolerate the cold, and must be kept in a warm environment.
Remember that kinkajous are not domesticated animals like dogs and cats. Even those bred and raised in captivity are still essentially wild animals with very strong instincts. Be cautious when introducing your kinkajou to other pets you may have and especially to younger children.