Saturday, June 18, 2011


The biturong (Arctictis binturong) also known as the Bearcat, Asian bearcat or the Palawan bearcat is a species from the family Viverridae which includes civets and genets.  The real meaning of the original word has been lost as a particular local language is extinct.  This species is classified as vulnerable as numbers have reduced due to destruction of habitat.

Physical Features 
As the binturong is an omnivore, people refer to it as a small bear but it is actually the size of a large cat.  It can grow 24 to 38 inches (60 to 96 cm) and can weigh about 14 kilograms.  Some  specimens are 24 kilograms or more.  They have coarse, black fur and has light silver fur on its face which makes it look larger to other animals.  It is a nocturnal and sleeps on branches during the day.  The tail is prehensile, bushy and is almost the length of the animal itself .  It can act like  a fifth hand for the animal.  Binturongs have small, round ears and eyes.

The binturong is an omnivore.  It feeds on leaves, fruits and seeds while it even feeds on insects, eggs, rodents or even birds.  This habit resembles a bear and therefore, it has earned its name 'bearcat' as it is like a large cat.

The binturong jumps from branch to branch in search of food using its tail as support and its claws for grip.  They can use their tail to communicate as there are scent glands near the tail which sends a signal to other animals.  Many people say that the scent that they emit smells like warm buttered popcorn.  Binturongs make chuckling noises when happy while they make a high pitched wail when annoyed.  Sometimes, when they are conered by an animal or a hunter, they can be vicious.

 Distribution and Habitat
A baby binturong with its mother
Binturongs live on canopies of rainforests.  They are found in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Bhutan, India, Burma, Indonesia, The Philippines,  Thailand, Nepal, China and Vietnam.

Life Cycle 
Binturongs have a gestation period of 91 days.  Females mature at the age of 30 months while males mature after 27 months.  They have a lifespan of 20 years in captivity.  There was a specimen that lived for 26 years

Binturongs are on demand as their fur is used for medical purposes.  It is hunted by locals for their meat.  They are even threatened as alien species are introduced to their habitat.

Source of pic 2

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