Interesting facts about binturongs

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The binturong (Arctictis binturong) also known as bearcat is a catlike carnivore of the civet family (Viverridae).

It is native to South and Southeast Asia.

The binturong is found in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, MalaysiaLaos, Cambodia, VietnamChina, Indonesia and the Philippines.

This animal is uncommon in much of its range, and has been assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because of a declining population trend that is estimated at more than 30% over the last three decades.

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Binturongs are primarily arboreal and live in the canopies of tall, dense, tropical forests.

They spend most of their time climbing in trees and they even sleep in the branches.

Binturongs are found from sea level up to 1,190 meters (3,900 feet) above sea level.

The lifespan of a binturong is from 18 years in the wild and up to 25 in captivity.

The binturonga is the largest species in the civet family.

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Their body length is 61 to 96 cm (24 to 38 in) with an almost equal tail length of 56 to 89 cm (22 to 35 in). They weigh from 9 to 20 kilograms (20 to 44 ponds). Females are 20% larger than males.

Long, coarse, black fur covers their bodies and sometimes has gray tips.

Their faces have slightly lighter fur and white whiskers. Long ear tufts protrude from small rounded ears. Their eyes are small and reddish brown.

The feet are five-toed, with large strong claws; the soles are bare, and applied to the ground throughout the whole of their length; the hind ones are longer than the fore.

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They walk flat-footed, and, when waddling on the ground, they tend to amble much like a bear does.

Binturongs are one of two carnivorous species that have a prehensile tail (the other is the kinkajou). A prehensile tail is the tail of an animal that has adapted to be able to grasp or hold objects.

They are mostly solitary and tend to evade each other, but aren’t strictly territorial.

Binturongs can swim fairly well and have good vision day or night.

This creatures are largely thought to be nocturnal, but they have also been described as crepuscular, and occasionally diurnal.

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Binturongs are omnivorous, feeding on small mammals, birds, fish, earthworms, insects and fruits. Captive binturongs are particularly fond of plantains, but would also eat fowls’ heads and eggs.

They groom their coats like cats do, licking and nibbling their fur, and cleaning their face with their front paws.

The female binturong is one of only a few mammals that can experience delayed implantation, which allows the female to time the birth of her young with good environmental conditions. This means that mating can take place anytime of the year, because the female can control when her babies are born.

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Gestation lasts 84 to 99 days. Litter size in captivity varies from one to six young, with an average of two young per birth.

They are very rarely prey items. As relatively large carnivores, there are few animals that can kill them. Two species of known predators are tigers and dholes.

Major threats to the binturong are habitat loss and degradation of forests through logging and conversion of forests to non-forest land-uses throughout the binturong’s range.

Also pet trade, fur trade, human consumption, and non-specific hunting also cause decreases in population through poaching.

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In 1822, Thomas Stamford Raffles first described a specimen from Malacca. In Riau, Indonesia it was known as tenturun.

The real meaning of the word binturong is lost now, as the local language that used it is extinct.

Although called ‘bearcat’, this omnivorous mammal is related to neither bears nor cats but to the palm civets of Asia.

Its genus name Arctictis means ‘bear-weasel’, from Greek arkt- ‘bear’ + iktis ‘weasel’.

Binturongs have an important job in the forests where they are found. Through their fecal deposits (poop), they help spread seeds from the fruits they eat, helping to replant the rain forest. They also help with pest control, since they catch and eat rodents.

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