7 Fun Facts You About The Binturong (Arctictis Binturong)


Derrick Marino, Reporter

What is a binturong? Most people don’t even know what they are. Do you? The binturong is an omnivorous animal that lives in Southeast Asia, in dense thick jungles mainly used for protection from humans and other predators. It is not a very well known animal, mainly due to the fact that its population has been declining for the last thirty years, and because it is rarely spotted in the wild. Here are some interesting facts about these unique animals.

  1. It is known as a bear-cat, but isn’t related to either bears or cats. Even though they might walk like a bear, the binturong belongs to the viverridae family, which mainly consists of small to medium sized animals, with the binturong being the biggest species in the family. The viverrids are only found only in Southeast Asia, but due to the deforestation of the area, several species are vulnerable to go extinct.
  2. Nobody wants to snack on them. Due to their size and where they live — the thick, dense jungles — they don’t really have too many predators that can get at them. Yes, large animals like snakes and tigers are a threat to adult size binturongs, and birds of prey are a threat to babies, but other than those, there aren’t any real bad predators. The biggest threat to binturongs is deforestation, humans’ impact on the environment.
  3. They smell like buttered popcorn! If you were to ever pet a binturong and smell your hand after, you’d notice it smells a lot like a salty, buttery movie theater treat. Popcorn! The smell you would experience is thanks to scent glands just under the binturongs tail. Even though it smells good to us, it smells horrid and repels most other animals and predators.
  4. Female binturongs are capable of embryonic diapause! Have you ever imagined a human woman being capable of controlling when she will give birth? Well the female binturong has this capability, and it’s quite intriguing. Binturongs only have about a ninety day gestation period, but can control when they want to give birth using a reproductive strategy known as embryonic diapause. Embryonic diapause is basically when the embryo doesn’t immediately implant into the uterus. The embryo is kept in a dormant state until the female binturongs senses the current environment is suitable for their offspring.
  5. They need to lay off the junk food! The binturong is the largest in its family, reaching approximately three feet length and weighing between twenty-two and thirty-one pounds, which makes it impossible to jump from tree to tree. Binturongs have the advantage of a prehensile tail, which is like a fifth leg that helps them climb. They are also known to be very good swimmers, and often spends a lot of time in the water to cool of in the sun.
  6. What in the world does binturong even mean? The meaning of the word binturong is unknown. The word was derived from an ancient language that is now extinct! Boo!
  7. They need to quiet down a little bit! Binturongs make a lot of different noises to communicate with others. For example, they chuckle when they’re happy, but when they’re mad, they growl and make a high pitched wail to deter other animals. They also make sounds when they want to mate. A male binturong, when on the prowl, will make occasional low grunts and hiss through its partially opened lips, and if a female is attracted and interested, she will purr just like a cat.