Animal Profile

Scientific name Arctictis binturong
Class Mammal
Length 2-3 feet (60-90 cm)
Tail length 2-3 feet (60-90 cm)
Weight about 45 pounds (20.4 kg)
Life span 17.2 years (MLE)
Gestation 84-99 days
Number of young at birth 1 or 2 at a time
Size at birth 5 ounces (142 g)
Age of maturity about 3 years
Conservation status Lower risk

Living above the ground
The binturong lives high in the trees within the dense rain forests iof Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Palawan Islands, Burma, and the Malayan and Indo-Chinese Peninsulas.

Feeding the Binturong
These mammals eat fruits, leaves, insects and small animals including fish and birds. At the zoo, they eat a commercial carnivore diet along with monkey chow, fruits, and leaves.

The original “bearcat”
Binturongs are sometimes called “bearcats” because the look like a small bear and have a whiskered face like a cat. They have elongated heads and pointed muzzles. The binturong’s fur is black, long and coarse. The fur on their tails is longer than that on the rest of their body. They have five toes on each foot and sharp bear-like claws. They walk on the soles of their feet (plantigrade). Their cat-like tail is actually prehensile, which they use to grasp branches as they maneuver in trees.

Happy loners
Although binturongs are nocturnal and mainly solitary, they are very playful, demonstrating behavior similar to a raccoon. At night, binturongs move slowly through their homes in the trees to look for fruit. They walk flat-footed, like a bear or a human, and when walking on the ground they tend to amble much like a bear does. Unlike a bear or human, though, binturongs can turn their ankles backward so that their claws can still grip when climbing down a tree headfirst. Their prehensile tails are used like an extra hand when climbing around in the treetops. The tails are muscular at the base with a leathery patch at the tip to help grip the branches as they climb. Young binturongs have been seen hanging upside down while completely supported by their tails, but adults are a bit too heavy to do this without using a paw or two for an extra grip. Binturongs also make lots of noises to communicate. A binturong can make chuckling sounds when happy and will utter a high-pitched wail if bothered. They also make loud howls, low grunts, and hisses.

Is this a zoo or a movie theater?
The binturong emits an unusual odor that resembles the smell of popcorn. As pleasing as it might be to a human nose, that scent serves one purpose in the wild: to let other binturongs know they are trespassing on someone else’s territory. The scent is made by an oil gland under the tail; as a binturong drags its tail through the branches it climbs on, it leaves its scent behind.

The ladies are in charge here!
Females are about 20 percent bigger and heavier than the males and are the dominant sex in this species. A male will sometimes stay with the female after mating, even after she has given birth. Baby binturongs are born with eyes sealed and remain hidden in the mother’s thick fur for their first few days. They begin to eat solid food at six to eight weeks. Binturongs usually live by themselves or in small family groups consisting of a female and her immature offspring.