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Kinkajou (Potos flavus) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding


Frugivore (Figueroa and Arita 2013)

  • Primarily eat ripe fruit (Kays 1999)
    • c. 90% of the diet (Kays 1999)
  • Other foods (from Figueroa and Arita 2013; Kays 1999)
    • Flowers and nectar
      • Pollen commonly seen on facial fur after taking nectar from flowers (Kays 1999)
    • Leaves
    • Honey
    • Insects
      • Small beetles and insect larvae may be incidentally consumed (Kays 1999)

Exploit numerous fruits (from Kays 1999 unless otherwise noted)

  • Prefer wild figs
    • Figs (Ficus spp) form largest portion of the diet (Figueroa and Arita 2013; Kays 1999; Kays and Gittleman 2001)
      • 21.8-44.9% of the diet in one study
  • Consume nearly 80 types of fruit
  • Other fruits commonly consumed
    • Moraceae (mulberry family of plants)
      • Brosimum sp, Cercropia sp, Poulsenia sp, Pourouma sp, and Coussapoa sp (Julien-Laferriere 1999; Kays 1999)
    • Palmae (palm family)
      • Astrocaryum standleyanum and Scheelea zonensis
    • Mimosoideae
      • Cordia panamensis

Nectar sources (from Kays 1999 unless otherwise noted)

  • Target specific flowering plants
    • Quararibea cordata (Janson et al. 1981)
    • Ochroma pyramidale
    • Pseudobomax septenatum
    • Tetrathylacium johansenii
    • Eperua falcate (Julien-Laferriere 1999)
    • Alexa wachenheimii (Julien-Laferriere 1999)


Forage in the mid- to upper-canopy (Estrada and Coats-Estrada 1985; Figueroa and Arita 2013)

Feeding behavior

  • Body postures
    • Forehands grasp and manipulate food
      • Grip small fruits with a single hand
    • Hang upside down from hindfeet
      • Forehands grasp and manipulate food
    • Sit upright in a tripod stance; tail and hindfeet balance the body (Poglayen-Neuwall 1962)
    • Lie on the side or back with food resting on the body (Poglayen-Neuwall 1962)
  • Teeth tear open fruits

Kinkajou Love Fruit!

a Kinkajou in a tree

Fruits, particularly those of fig trees, are a staple of the kinkajou diet. Kinkajous eat nearly all portions of the fruit, including seeds. Seeds pass, intact through the digestive tract and are dispersed to new locations in droppings; a process which helps spread plants through the forest .

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Estrada and Coates-Estrada (1985)
Figuerosa et al. (2013)
Janson et al (1981)
Julien-Laferrier (1999)
Kays (1999)
Kays and Gittleman (2001)
McClearn (1992)
Poglayen-Neuwall (1962)

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