Monday, October 3, 2011

Binturongs - Asian Bearcats

At first glance the binturong might be mistaken for a lot of other animals. Its head looks like it belongs on a cat or perhaps an otter, while its body looks like somewhat of a cross between a wolverine, a bear and a sloth.
The binturong, sometimes referred to as the Asian bearcat, is actually a member of the Viverridae family; home to animals such as civets and genets. The origins of the binturong’s name are no longer known, as the language spoken by the locals who originally coined it is now extinct.
Binturongs are native the rainforest canopy of Southeast Asia in countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. They are omnivorous and eat a variety of different fruits, leaves, lizards and carrion. Their strong claws and long prehensile tails allow them to easily traverse trees and even walk down tree trunks head first!

One interesting aspect of the binturong is its smell. Like many animals, it has scent glands that are used to mark territory. However, the binturong’s particular scent is similar to hot, buttered popcorn!

Habitat loss and the binturong’s popularity as a pet are current threats to its livelihood in the wild.

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