Species: A. binturong
The binturong also goes by the names of the Asian bearcat, the Palawan bearcat, or, simply, the bearcat. It is a nocturnal creature of Southeast Asia, often dwelling high in the trees for both sleep and food. It is known to make a chuckling sound, and reportedly smells like a batch of freshly-made popcorn. Althought listed as an animal of “Least Concern”, the binturong has come under sustained pressure. Deforestation has claimed much of its natural habitat, and in some parts of its range it is listed as “vulnerable” or “endangered”. It is also hunted as a culinary delicacy and for medicinal purposes, in which it is commonly used as an aphrodisiac.
In size, the binturong is close to that of a small dog. It averages a length of 2 – 3 ft, with an additional tail length of another 2 – 3 ft. It usually weighs 30 – 60 lbs. The binturong has thick, black fur, small rounded ears, and a long busy tail. Along with the kinkajou, the binturong is the only carnivore with a prehensile tail, which it uses as a kind of “fifth hand”. Females are generally about 20% larger than males.
Binturong are known to eat a variety of foods, including fish, birds, eggs, leaves, plant shoots, small inverterbrates, and even carrion. Despite the diversity of its appetite, the binturong is frugivorous, and feeds primarily on fruits.
The binturong resides in the forests of Southeast Asia, roaming high in the trees. It sleeps on branches during the day and is active during the night. It can be found in areas of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia (including Java, Sumatra, and Borneo), Burma, India, Thailand, and Palawan.
The binturong is one of only about 100 mammals capable of delayed implantation. This allows the female to time birth with favorable environmental conditions. This means that mating can occur at anytime during the year. And although breeding is not seasonal, it has been observed that parturition (birth) happens more frequently between February and April, with additional periods in July and November. Gestation lasts for a period of about 91 days, after which time usually 2 – 3 cubs are born. Binturongs reach sexual maturity at around 840 days.