Have we been too wrong about the binturong? 😉
Sometimes called the bearcat, this little known animal species is in fact neither a bear nor a cat, but rather it is a VIVERRID along with other little known species like civets and genets. Although considered a carnivore, it actually eats more fruit than meat!
Binturongs are tree-dwelling creatures that live in Southeast Asia, and are the largest viverrid on the planet. Their tail is about as long as their body, and the end of it is prehensile or grasping, like a monkey’s.
Unfortunately, binturongs are rarely seen in the wild now. Too many have been captured for the pet trade, eaten as meat, or killed for use in the Chinese medicine market. The biggest threat to the population of binturongs, however, is destruction of their forest habitat, as is the case with so many endangered species.
Binturongs are primarily frugivorous — they eat fruit. However, they do also hunt some rodents, birds, and insects to round out their diet. Their hind limbs rotate backwards like a squirrel’s, allowing them to get a better grip on tree trunks. They can even open fruits with those multi-talented toes of theirs!
Binturongs usually live alone and typically come out mainly at night. However, captive animals have been known to be active at all times of the day, and even in the wild they can be found hanging out in groups of two or more adults along with some juveniles.
Perhaps the craziest thing about the binturong, aside from its monkey tail, backwards feet, and crazy whiskers, is the fact that it produces the scent of popcorn! Young binturongs up to about two months of age actually spray this scent like a skunk, for protection! Older binturong cubs and adults just use their scent glands for recognition and territory marking.
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