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Kinkajou (Potos flavus)

  • Kinkajou (Potos flavus)

    Common Name/s: Kinkajou 
    Scientific name: Potos flavus
    Brazilian common name/s: Jupará-verdadeiro, macaco-da-meia-noite

    Quick facts (average values with minimum and maximum in parenthesis)

    Body length (cm): (43-76)a Tail (cm):  (39-57)a Diet: Omnivorous a,b
    Weight (kg): 3 (1-5)a Height (cm):  Home range (km2): 0.08-0.5c
    Litter size: (1-2) a Gestation (days): (98-120) a Longevity (years): 23 (maximum)
    Social structure: Mainly solitary but groups form when feeding at fruiting trees or sleeping  b
    Activity pattern: Nocturnala

    a (Ford & Hoffmann 1988),b (Kays & Gittleman 2001) , c (Kays & Gittleman 1995)

    Physical description
    With its prehensile tail and rounded face, this species looks and behaves more like a primate than a carnivore. It has dense, soft fur, which is reddish brown in colour but may also have lighter shades.

    Habitat and Ecology
    It is a species that depends on closed canopy tropical rainforests and occurs from Mexico to Sao Paulo state in Brazil. In Brazil they mainly occur in the Amazon basin and northern Mato Grosso state, but Kinkajous are also found in areas of the Atlantic Forest.
    The Kinkajou has nocturnal habits and is strictly arboreal (lives in the trees - Ford & Hoffmann 1988). Its external appearance and eating habits make it more like a monkey than a carnivore, which is why the species came to be known in areas of the Amazon basin as the midnight-monkey (“macaco-da-meia-noite”).
    Their diet consists mainly of fruits, but Kinkajou also eat seeds and insects (Fleming & Williams 2009; Julien-Laferriere 1999; Kays 1999). An important feature is their long tongue, which allows them to feed on insects and even nectar. Due to the fruit and nectar in their diet they have an important role as seed dispersers and pollinators (Fleming & Williams 2009; Janson et al. 1981; Julien-Laferriere 1999).

    Threats and Conservation
    Due to its wide distribution and relatively high densities this species is considered “least concern” by the IUCN ( However, their dependence on forest habitats means the main threats to this species are habitat loss and poaching, with loss of forest significantly influencing their probability of occurrence in Amazonian forest fragments (Michalski & Peres 2005).

    Online links
    IUCN redlist ( presents a summary of current knowledge on distribution and conservation status

    Fleming, T. H., & Williams, C. F. (2009). Phenology, seed dispersal, and recruitment in Cecropia peltata (Moraceae) in Costa Rican tropical dry forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 6, 163-178.

    Ford, L. S., & Hoffmann, R. S. (1988). Potos flavus. Mammalian Species, 321, 1-9.

    Janson, C. H., Terborgh, J., & Emmons, L. H. (1981). Non-flying mammals as pollinating agents in the Amazonian forest. Biotropica, , 1-6.

    Julien-Laferriere, D. (1999). Foraging strategies and food partitioning in the neotropical frugivorous mammals Caluromys philander and Potos flavus. Journal of Zoology, 247, 71-80.

    Kays, R. W. (1999). Food preferences of kinkajous (Potos flavus): A frugivorous carnivore. Journal of Mammalogy, 80, 589-599.

    Kays, R. W., & Gittleman, J. L. (1995). Home range size and social behavior of kinkajous (Potos flavus) in the Republic of Panama. Biotropica, 27, 530-534.

    Kays, R. W., & Gittleman, J. L. (2001). The social organization of the kinkajou Potos flavus (Procyonidae). Journal of Zoology, 253, 491-504.

    Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2005). Anthropogenic determinants of primate and carnivore local extinctions in a fragmented forest landscape of southern Amazonia. Biological Conservation, 124, 383-396.

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