|Size:||Length: 24 to 39 inches (60 to 97 cm)|
|Weight:||20 to 40 pounds (9 to 18 kg)|
|Diet:||Fruit, plants and small animals such as rodents|
|Distribution:||Southeast Asia and nearby islands|
|Young:||1 to 5, 1 to 2 times per year|
|IUCN Status:||No special status|
|Terms:||No special terms|
|Lifespan:||Up to 20 years|
· Binturongs have distinctive facial features, making it easy to tell them apart.
· Binturongs have a distinct odour, similar to that of buttered popcorn.
· Like bears, binturongs walk on flat feet.
Binturongs, also called bearcats, look like a cross between a bear and a cat. They have thick, coarse fur and a bushy, prehensile tail that is as long as their body. Their legs are short, but powerful. Their ears are round, like that of bears, with ear tufts that are twice as long as the ears, and they have medium length snouts with white whiskers. They have well-developed pads on the bottom of their feet, which allow them to run along branches. Binturongs range in colour from black to brown, and they often have a grey face. Unlike other viverrids, the female binturong weighs up to 20 percent more than the male.
Binturongs are found in tropical forests in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Palawan.
Fruit is the preferred food of binturongs, although their diet is supplemented with smaller quantities of plant matter and meat, such as carrion and small mammals, as well as birds.
Binturongs form closely bonded pairs. The female, which is most often dominant, usually initiates mating, which can occur year round. Three months later, the female give birth to her young in a sheltered area on the ground, such as a cave or a hollow tree. The male remains nearby and is protective of his family, becoming unusually aggressive if an intruder approaches. The young are tiny, weighing only a few ounces, and are born with their eyes shut. Already at birth, they have a distinctive popcorn scent. Litters usually consist of only one or two, but in rare cases there have been up to five in a litter. By the time the young are two to three weeks old, they can see and will begin to play with each other. When frightened, they cling tightly to each other and to their mother or father. At six to eight weeks old, they are weaned and are adept climbers.
Binturongs are sociable animals that live in groups. Although mainly nocturnal, they will emerge during the day—they spend most of their time in trees, and their hands, feet and tail are all capable of grasping tree limbs. They can sometimes be seen hanging from their tail like a monkey. When descending a tree, they usually go headfirst like a squirrel. Binturongs tend to be good-natured and are rarely aggressive. Rather than attacking when threatened, a binturong will first urinate or defecate on an enemy. When frightened, binturongs release a fine liquid spray with an unpleasant smell. They are uncomfortable in extremely hot weather and will sleep more often during these times, as well as eat less. They do not sweat, but need to pant to cool down. They are good swimmers and can dive under water. In cold weather, they huddle together for warmth.
Their numbers are small and shrinking due to the loss of rainforests and because of hunting. A subspecies, the Palawan binturong, is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.
Binturong Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US