An adult kinkajou weighs 1.4–4.6 kg (3–10 lb). The adult body length is 40–60 cm (16–24 in); in addition to body length, the tail length is 40–60 cm (16–24 in). The kinkajou's woolly fur consists of an outer coat of gold (or brownish-gray) overlapping a gray undercoat. It has large eyes and small ears. It also has short legs with five toes on each foot and sharp claws.
Kinkajous are sometimes called honey bears because they raid bees' nests. They use their long, skinny tongues to slurp honey from a hive, and also to remove insects like termites from their nests. Kinkajous also eat fruit and small mammals, which they snare with their nimble front paws and sharp claws. They roam and eat at night, and return each morning to sleep in previously used tree holes.
Kinkajous form treetop groups and share social interactions such as reciprocal grooming. They are vocal animals—though seldom seen, they are often heard screeching and barking in the tropical forest canopy. Female kinkajous give birth to one offspring in spring or summer. The baby is born with its eyes shut and cannot see for a month. It develops quickly, however, and by the end of the second month, it is already able to hang upside down from its tail.