Binturong or Bear Cat
Common Name: Binturong
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Misc.: Viverridae can be found in southwestern Europe, southern Asia, the East Indies, Africa and Madagascar. The family consists of 36 genera and 71 species and includes Civets, Genets, Linsangs, Mongooses and Fossas.
Sub-Species: A. Binturong is a single species. There are no known sub-species.
Appearance: The Binturong gives the appearance of a cross between a bear and a cat, hence the nickname Bear Cat. They have elongated heads and pointed muzzles. They are the largest of the Viverrids. The fur is long and course, with the fur on the tail being even longer than that on the rest of the body. The hairs are black and lustrous, often with a gray or buff tip. The head is finely speckled with gray and buff, and the edges of the ears and whiskers are white. The ears have long hairs on the back that project beyond the tips and produce a fringed or tufted effect. The tail is extremely muscular, and the tip of the tail is prehensile. They have 5 toes on each foot, complete with long, sharp bear like claws. Binturongs give off an unusual scent that resembles popcorn. Unlike other members of the Viverrids who walk on their toes, Binturongs walk on their soles with their heels touching the ground and have a bear like shuffle. They are very slow gaited, but can be very fast when on the attack.
Size: The Binturong has a head and body length of 2 – 3 feet with the tail length around an additional 2 – 2 ½ feet. Weight averages between 20 – 30 pounds. Newborns weigh in at a mere 10 ½ ounces.
Habitat: Binturongs can be found in dense forests, however it is not found anywhere in any great abundance. It is mainly arboreal and nocturnal.
Distribution: This single species can be found on the island of Burma, and possibly from Nepal, to Indochina and the Malay Peninsula and on Sumatra, Bankga, Java, the Rhio Archipelago and Palwan.
Reproduction: Binturongs in captivity tend to breed throughout the year with no set seasons. Females may give birth to 2 litters per year with each litter having between 1-6 babies, with 2 being the average. Babies are born after a 90 day gestation period, reach breeding maturity at 2 ½ years for females and 2 years for males, and can remain fertile until at least 15 years. The Binturong is one of approximately 100 species of mammal believed by many husbandry experts to be capable of embryonic diapause, or delayed implantation, which allows the female of the species to time parturition to coincide with favorable environmental conditions.
Offspring: Babies are born with fur and are totally blind and helpless. They begin to take solid foods between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks.
Social System: Like most Vivverids, Binturongs are solitary or live in small groups of adults with immature offspring.
Diet: Binturongs will generally eat small vertebrates and invertebrates, and occasionally eat fruits, vegetables and nuts. In some instances, they have even been known to scavenge. Binturongs are very opportunistic eaters and will even dive and swim to catch fish.
Communication: Very little is known about wild Binturongs, but in captivity they are very vocal, uttering high pitched whines and howls, rasping growls, and when very excited, a variety of grunts and hisses. Binturongs also produce a scent that is used for communication with other binturongs, but to humans it smells like a sweet popcorn.
How rare is this animal ? The International Species Information Service lists 252 worldwide, with 118 being in the U.S.