Monday, June 28, 2010


The Binturong (Arctictis binturong) also has an equally awesome alternate common name, the Bearcat! However, it really isn't much of a bear OR a cat. While it is true that it is part of the Feliforma suborder, it is not a member of family Felidae. Binturongs are a part of their own family, Viverridae, which is shared with Civets, Linsangs, and Genets. There are six subspecies of Binturong, all of which have slight differences based upon location and habitat. Binturongs range in body size from 60-100cm in length, (not including their tail which has roughly the same length) and weigh between 20 and 30lbs.

Binturongs are nocturnal animals native to the rain forests of South East Asia. The species range spans through several countries including China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are tree dwelling mammals, and have fully prehensile tails that basically double their body length and can be used to cling to the trees or to grasp food. Binturongs are phenomenal climbers, and can even move upside down from branch to branch and rotate their back ankles to assist in grasping. However, they are quite awkward when it comes to ground movement, and tend to amble from side to side a bit like a bear. They are omnivores and will eat fruits, leaves, rodents, insects and even carrion. Binturongs are important to their habitat because their digestive system is able to break down tough strangler fig seed shells. Once the seeds pass through and are defecated they are capable of being planted.

I feel that one of the most interesting things about Binturongs is their smell. They smell like buttered popcorn. Their scent is produced by glands under the tail, and is left behind on the things that they climb over. The purpose of this scent is to mark territory, which can either help in finding mates, or act as an alert to trespassers. Another interesting fact is that the Binturong is one of only a few mammal species capable of delayed implantation. This means that they can breed year round, but time the birth of their young to favorable conditions. They have a gestation period of 91 days, and usually have litters of 2-3cubs. January through March are the peak months for giving birth.

Thanks again to Jon for the suggestion!

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