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Overview

Distribution

Binturongs are found in Southeast Asia, specifically Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. They are also found more rarely on the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, Nias, Raiu, and the Bangka islands.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

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Range Description

The binturong is widespread in south and southeast Asia occurring in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China (Yunnan), India (including Sikkim), Indonesia (Kalimantan, Java, Sumatra), Lao PDR, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines (Palawan), Thailand, and Viet Nam (Heaney et al. 1998; Wozencraft 2005). Records from outside this range include a 1928 record from Guangxi, China (Zhang 1997) and record from Calauit Island, Philippines (Corbet and Hill 1992) and several from Cambodia (Walston 2001).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Binturonga are the largest species in the Viverridae family, weighing 9 to 20 kg (Cosson et al., 2007). Their body length is 61 to 96 cm with an almost equal tail length of 56 to 89 cm (Nowak, 1999). Females are 20% larger than males (San Diego Zoo, 2012). 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. Binturongs are one of two carnivorous species that have a prehensile tail. Their third and fourth digits are syndactylous (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981).

Range mass: 9 to 20 kg.

Range length: 60 to 96 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

Average basal metabolic rate: 12.747 W.

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.
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Type Information

Type for Arctictis binturong
Catalog Number: USNM 141230
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Unknown;
Preparation: Skin
Collector(s): W. Abbott
Year Collected: 1905
Locality: Nias Island [= Pulau Nias], S, near Fadoro, Sumatra, Sumatera Utara, Indonesia, Asia
Microhabitat: hills
  • Type: Lyon, M. W. 1916 Dec 30. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 52: 443.
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Ecology

Habitat

Binturongs are primarily arboreal and live in the canopies of tall, dense, tropical forests. In Lao, they inhabit extensive evergreen forests and in the Philippines they dwell in primary and secondary lowland forests with grasslands (Widmann et al., 2008). They spend most of their time climbing in trees and they even sleep in the branches (San Diego Zoo, 2012).

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

  • Grassman Jr., L., M. Tewes, N. Silvy. 2005. Ranging, habitat use and activity patterns of binturong Arctictis binturong and yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula in north-central Thailand. Wildlife Biology, 11: 49-57.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Binturongs are primarily arboreal, but do descend to the ground and some are captured (Duckworth et al. 1999); in
fact the number of pictures coming up on camera-traps across its mainland range reveals an unexpectedly high level of ground activity. This is no doubt because it is heavy and ponderous, and where other animals would leap between trees, it must descend to the ground to go from one tree to another, i.e. quite often when commuting (Than Zaw et al. in press).

The ecology of this species is poorly clarified and may vary between areas, as publications about activity are conflicting. Grassman et al. (2005) noted the binturong to be crepuscular and nocturnal and Nowak (1991) reported them to be predominantly nocturnal, whereas Nettelbeck (1997) reports them to often be active during the day, and there are many other day-time field sightings made incidentally during forest research (e.g. Lambert 1990; Datta 1999). Activity patterns have also been described as cathemeral or arrhythmic (Than Zaw et al. in press).

In Thailand, Grassman et al. (2005) found that this species has a mean annual range size of 6.2 km² with a mean overlap of 35% in a study on this species conducted in Phu Kieo Wildlife Sanctuary. Within this range, the binturong is confined to tall forest, where it feeds on fruits and small animals like insects, birds, and rodents, as well as fish (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). In Lao PDR, recent records are from extensive evergreen forest, while in other countries a variety of tall forests are used (Duckworth et al. 1999). In the Philippines, the species is found in primary and secondary lowland forest, including grassland/forest mosaic from sea level to 400 m (Rabor 1986; Esselstyn et al. 2004). It was recorded in secondary forest, that was logged in the 1970s, and which surrounds a palm estate, in Malaysia in 2000-01 by Azlan (2003).The litter size is about one to three, with a gestation of 92 days, reaching adult size in one year, and they may live as long as 18 years (Lekagul and McNeely 1977).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Trophic Strategy

Binturongs are in the order Carnivora, but are primarily frugivorous. They eat fruits such as those of the strangler fig tree (Ficus altissima). They are also good hunters and their prey consists of many small animals such as insects, birds, fish, and rodents. As opportunistic feeders, binturongs will also eat carrion, eggs, tree shoots, and leaves.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; fish; eggs; carrion ; insects

Plant Foods: leaves; fruit

Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )

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Associations

Binturongs are often described as a keystone species within their ecosystems. They are the only known disperser of strangler fig (Ficus altissima) seeds as they have the digestive enzymes required to soften its seed coat. This seed dispersal is very crucial for the persistence of these forest ecosystems. Also, as predators, they may influence the populations of their prey species.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; keystone species

Mutualist Species:

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Arthrostoma guilhoni n. sp.
  • Tetrapetalonema

  • Gupta, P., S. Dutt. 1980. Tetrapetalonema in a bear cat (Arcticus binturong). Indian Journal of Parasitology, 4: 165.
  • Le-Van-Hoa, 1969. A new ancylostomatid, Arthrostoma guilhoni n. sp., a nematode parasite of the carnivore Artictis binturong in South Vietnam. Bull Soc Pathol Exot Filiales, 62: 1101-1106.
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Binturongs 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. During a study conducted within binturong range, 172 dhole scats examined contained no evidence of binturongs (Grassman Jr. et al., 2005).

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Binturongs communicate primarily through olfactory means. Both sexes have sent glands on each side of their anuses and females have another pair of sent glands around their vulva (Cosson et al., 2007). These sent glands mark trees as they climb and let other binturongs know where they have been. The scent created is described as that of corn chips or popcorn. Binturongs also use vocal communication such as loud howls, low grunts, and hisses (San Diego Zoo, 2012). Females receptive to copulations make a purring sound (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981). Males and females produce a chuckling noise when they are happy and a high-pitched wail if they are upset (San Diego Zoo, 2012). Binturongs are also visually adapted to see in a wide range of light as they have elliptical pupils that adjust readily (Grassman Jr. et al., 2005).

Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Binturongs can live up to 18 years in the wild and can live over 25 years in captivity.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
18 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
25 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
22.7 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
18.0 years.

  • Carey, J., D. Judge. 2000. Longevity Records: Life Spans of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Fish. Odense: Odense University Press.
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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 27 years (captivity) Observations: In captivity these animals may live up to 27 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Little research has been done regarding the mating systems of binturongs. Michael Zwirn reported in 2011 that the father of a mated pair remained with the mother and young after birth, so a monogamous system is most likely. However, the male doesn't always stay and help the female raise the young. Groups of binturongs usually only include the mother with immature females (Grassman Jr. et al., 2005). Binturongs are generally solitary unless females are in estrus, in which case they make a call that attracts males (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981). Males often act defensively towards females unless they are in estrus.

Mating System: monogamous

There doesn't seem to be a reproductive season for binturongs, because they mate throughout the year. There is, however, an increase in births from January to March, which could be a result of delayed implantation (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981). Gestation lasts 91 days and the typical litter size is 2, but there can be up to 6 (Carnivore Preservation Trust, 2009). Females reach sexual maturity at about 30 months and males reach sexual maturity at about 28 months (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981).

Breeding interval: Binturongs tend to breed twice a year.

Breeding season: Binturongs breed throughout the year.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 6.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Range gestation period: 90 to 92 days.

Range weaning age: 6 to 8 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 30.0 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 27.7 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous ; delayed implantation ; embryonic diapause

Average birth mass: 318 g.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
840 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
925 days.

Binturongs are born altritially with an average weight of 142 g and their eyes sealed (San Diego Zoo, 2012). The young remain hidden in their mother’s fur for the first few days and are weaned at about 6 to 8 weeks (San Diego Zoo, 2012). Males do not always provide parental care, but they sometimes do until the young are independent. Females will always provide care until the young are independent, and sometimes continue to live in a group with the offspring even after they are independent (Grassman Jr. et al., 2005).

Parental Investment: altricial ; male parental care ; female parental care ; pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents

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Conservation

Conservation Status

Populations of binturongs have declined more than 30% over the last 30 years (Widmann et al., 2008). The main threats to binturongs include deforestation, wildlife trade, and hunting (Cosson et al., 2007). Deforestation and habitat degradation is most severe in the south of their range (Widmann et al., 2008). Pet trade, fur trade, human consumption, and non-specific hunting also cause decreases in population through poaching (San Diego Zoo, 2012). Binturongs are listed as Critically Endangered on the China Red List and are protected in Malaysia (Widmann et al., 2008). However, current protection of binturongs doesn't satisfy their needs. Better enforcement of laws against poaching and habitat degradation needs to be instated to protect the diminishing species (Cosson et al., 2007).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix iii

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Widmann, P., De Leon, J. & Duckworth, J.W.

Reviewer/s
Belant, J. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Vulnerable because of a population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over the last 30 years (three generations), inferred from over-exploitation, shrinkage in distribution, habitat destruction and degradation, and wildlife trade. Habitat loss has been predominantly in the southern (Sundaic) portion of the range. In the northern portion of the range, habitat encroachment, while leading to some declines, is not as significant as in the southern portion, but the rampant hunting and trade of mammals in this size-class (within SE Asia and up into China; e.g. Bell et al. 2004), within which Binturong is a significant part, has severely depressed populations even within remaining large blocks of little-degraded forest. Thus this species in this northern part of its range is considered to be experiencing population declines sufficient to meet criteria for Vulnerable in large part on the basis of actual or potential levels of exploitation. In the Sundaic portion of the range, habitat loss has been severe in the lowlands (e.g. BirdLife International, 2001; Holmes, 2000; Jepson et al., 2001; McMorrow & Talip, 2001; Lambert & Collar, 2002; Curran et al., 2004; Fuller, 2004; Eames et al. 2005, Aratrakorn et al., 2006; Kinnaird et al., 2003). As there is no evidence that Binturong uses the plantations that are largely replacing natural forest in this region, major declines can be inferred based on decline in area of area of occupancy and habitat quality. There is insufficient information about usage of mid and high altitude forests (where forest is being lost more slowly), however, it is certainly not primarily a montane species, and on this basis the populations in the Sundaic portion of the range are also judged to be declining at rates sufficient to warrant listing as Vulnerable, mainly through habitat loss compounded with killing and capture.
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Population

Population
Historically, the binturong was often thought to be abundant within its distribution range, but is now uncommon or rare over much of the range. Lekagul and McNeely (1977) reported this species as rare in Thailand. In Lao PDR, there were only three sightings in extensive wildlife surveys into some of the remotest parts of the country between 1992 and 1999, two from Nam Kading National Biodiversity Conservation Area (Duckworth et al. 1999), and one from Hin Namno National Biodiversity Conservation Area in early 1998 (Walston and Vinton 1999, Duckworth et al. 1999). While Deuve (1972) reported this species to be common in Lao PDR, it is thought that this might be due to its striking appearance, rather than natural abundance (Duckworth et al. 1999).

Work in Thailand by Nettelbeck (1997) suggested that binturongs can be seen frequently when the threat of hunting is removed; however, as hunting is common in most areas, it is unclear whether the observed is only applicable to the site where this observation was noted (near Khao Yai National Park headquarters in Thailand). Grassman et al. (2005) recorded 31 individuals in Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand between 1998 and 2002. In the Philippines, the populations are restricted and uncommon (Heaney et al. 1998). Populations are thought to be decreasing as a result of collection for the pet trade. In Assam, India, the binturong has been noted as not uncommon in forested areas, and is most common in regions with good tree cover (Choudhury 1997).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Habitat loss and degradation are a major threat to the binturong (Schreiber et al. 1989). Throughout this species' range, there has been loss and degradation of forests through logging and conversion of forests to non-forest land-uses. Forest conversion has been extremely high in the lower altitude parts of its Sundaic range in the last 20 years (e.g. BirdLife International, 2001; Holmes, 2000; Jepson et al., 2001; McMorrow and Talip, 2001; Lambert and Collar, 2002; Curran et al. 2004; Fuller, 2004; Eames et al. 2005, Aratrakorn et al. 2006; Kinnaird et al. 2003). Choudhury (1997) notes that large-scale deforestation in Indian portions of the species range could be contributing to its increased rarity, since many records come from areas where forests are now being degraded. In China, rampant deforestation and opportunistic logging practices have fragmented suitable habitat or eliminated sites altogether (Pu et al. 2007). In Borneo, the overall density of civets (including the binturong) in logged forests was found to be significantly lower than in primary forests (Heydon and Bulloh, 1996).

In the Philippines this species is harvested for the pet trade, and in the south of its range it is also taken for human consumption (GMA Philippines 2006). In Lao PDR, this species is one of most frequently displayed caged live carnivores and skins are traded frequently in at least Vientiane (R. Tizard pers. comm.). Since many of the animals being traded are young, there is the possibility that trees are deliberately felled to allow individuals to be caught (I. Johnson pers. comm.. 1996). Considered a delicacy in parts of Lao PDR, the binturong is taken for food and is also traded as a food item to Viet Nam (I. Johnson pers. comm. 1999).

Given recent camara-trapping evidence in mainland Asia, it has become clear that the binturong descends to the ground more frequently than previously thought (Duckworth pers. comm. 2007); therefore the threat of snaring when this species descends to the ground may be more serious than previously considered (Duckworth et al 1999). Non-specific hunting of large mammals is very high across most of the species' mainland range. Duckworth (1997) speculated that hunting was unlikely to be the cause of the few recent sightings of binturong in Lao PDR, citing the many Black Giant Squirrels and gibbons in several areas lacking Binturong records. However, given the possibility of interspecific differences in population dynamics, these species may likewise have differing resilience to hunting pressure (Duckworth et al. 1999). Given that the binturong is relatively unafraid of humans and is sometimes active during the day, the species is often conspicuous both to surveyors (suggesting that the few encounters reflect a low population) and to hunters (thus exposing it to elevated risk) (Duckworth et al 1999).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
India included the binturong in CITES Appendix III in 1989 (UNEP-WCMC Species Database: CITES-Listed Species 2006). In the Philippines, the Environmental Legal Assistance Center has been involved in controlling and enforcing wildlife laws (applicable for all Palawan species). The species is protected in Malaysia (Azlan 2003), and is listed as Critically Endangered on the China Red List (Wang and Xie 2004). The species would benefit from effective controls on the trade.

The binturong occurs in protected areas across its current range, however, the effectiveness of these reserves at protecting the species is variable. Stricter enforcement of legislation against hunting, poaching, encroachment, habitat degradation, and deforestation is required to achieve the necessary protective status for this species.

This species has been recorded from several studies in protected areas, such as the following examples. A study of the range, habitat use, and activity patterns of this species was conducted by Grassman et al (2005) in Phu Kieo Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand (16° 05' to 16° 35' N, 101° 20' to 101° 55' E). It has also been studied in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand by Nettelbeck (1997) and Austin (2002). This species has been recorded recently in Nam Kading National Biodiversity Conservation Area in Lao PDR (Duckworth et al, 1999. This species was recorded from Jerangau Forest Reserve in Peninsular Malaysia in 2000-01 (04° 55.5' N, 103° 05.7' E; Azlan 2003), and Krau Wildlife Reserve (Laidlaw 2001).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Many zoos have or desire binturongs for education and static display. In the wild, binturongs prey on rodents and provide humans with rodent control. Binturongs can also be used by humans for their fur and meat, which is considered a delicacy in some countries. It is also reported that binturongs are relatively easily domesticated and sometimes kept as pets (Nowak, 1999).

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food ; body parts are source of valuable material; research and education; controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Binturong

"Bear cat" redirects here. For other uses, see Bearcat.

The binturong (Arctictis binturong), also known as bearcat, is a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is uncommon in much of its range, and listed as Vulnerable by IUCN because of a declining population trend that is estimated at more than 30% over the last three decades.[2] Thomas Stamford Raffles first described a specimen from Malacca where it is called binturung.[3] In standard Malay, it is known as benturung, and in Riau, Indonesia as tenturun.[4]

The binturong is a monotypic genus.[5] Its genus name Arctictis means ‘bear-weasel’, from Greek arkt- ‘bear’ + iktis ‘weasel’.[6]

Characteristics[edit]

Skull and dentition, as illustrated in Gervais' Histoire naturelle des mammifères

The body of the binturong is long and heavy, and low on the legs. It has a thick fur of strong black hair. The bushy and prehensile tail is thick at the root, gradually diminishing in size to the extremity, where it curls inwards. The muzzle is short and pointed, somewhat turned up at the nose, and is covered with bristly hairs, brown at the points, which lengthen as they diverge, and form a peculiar radiated circle round the face. The eyes are large, black and prominent. The ears are short, rounded, edged with white, and terminated by tufts of black hair. There are six short rounded incisors in each jaw, two canines, which are long and sharp, and six molars on each side. The hair on the legs is short and of a brownish tinge. 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.[3]

In general build the binturong is essentially like Paradoxurus and Paguma but more massive in the length of the tail, legs and feet, in the structure of the scent glands and larger size of rhinarium, which is more convex with a median groove being much narrower above the philtrum. The contour hairs of the coat are much longer and coarser, and the long hairs clothing the whole of the back of the ears project beyond the tip as a definite tuft. The anterior bursa flap of the ears is more widely and less deeply emarginate. The tail is more muscular, especially at the base, and in colour generally like the body, but commonly paler at the base beneath. The body hairs are frequently partly whitish or buff, giving a speckled appearance to the pelage, sometimes so extensively pale that the whole body is mostly straw-coloured or grey, the young being often at all events paler than the adults, but the head is always closely speckled with grey or buff. The long mystacial vibrissae are conspicuously white, and there is a white rim on the summit of the otherwise black ear. The glandular area is whitish.[5]

The tail is nearly as long as the head and body, which ranges from 28 to 33 in (71 to 84 cm); the tail is 26 to 27 in (66 to 69 cm) long.[7] Some captive binturongs measured from 2 ft 6 in (76 cm) to 3 ft (91 cm) in head and body with a tail of 2 ft 4 in (71 cm).[8] Mean weight of captive adult females is 21.9 kg (48 lb) with a range from 11 to 32 kg (24 to 71 lb). Captive animals often weigh more than wild counterparts.[9]

The binturong is the largest living species of the Viverridae, only rivaled by the African civet.[10] Females are 20% larger than males.[11]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Binturongs occur from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Yunnan in China, and from Sumatra, Kalimantan and Java in Indonesia to Palawan in the Philippines.[2]

Binturongs are confined to tall forest.[12] They are not uncommon in the forested plains and hills throughout Assam, but more common in foothills and hills with good tree cover. They have been recorded in Manas National Park, in Dulung and Kakoi Reserved Forests of the Lakhimpur district, in the hill forests of Karbi Anglong, North Cachar Hills, Cachar and Hailakandi Districts.[13] In Myanmar, binturongs were photographed on the ground in the Tanintharyi Nature Reserve at an altitude of 60 m (200 ft), in the Hukaung Valley at altitudes from 220–280 m (720–920 ft), in the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Reserve at 580 m (1,900 ft) and at three other sites up to 1,190 m (3,900 ft) elevation.[14] In Thailand's Khao Yai National Park, several individuals were observed feeding in a fig tree and on a vine.[15] In Laos, they have been observed in extensive evergreen forest.[16] In Malaysia, binturongs were recorded in secondary forest surrounding a palm estate that was logged in the 1970s.[17] In Palawan, they are found in primary and secondary lowland forest, including grassland–forest mosaic from sea level to 400 m (1,300 ft).[18]

Distribution of subspecies[edit]

Nine subspecies have been recognized forming two clades. The northern clade from mainland Asia has been separated from the Sundaic clade by the Isthmus of Kra.[19]

Ecology and behavior[edit]

Binturong (Arctictis binturong) camera trapped at a feeding platform on a fruiting Ficus at Pakke tiger reserve

Binturongs are active during the day and at night.[15][16] Three sightings in Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary were by day.[21] Thirteen camera trap photograph events in Myanmar involved one around dusk, seven in full night and five in broad daylight. All photographs were of single animals, and all were taken on the ground. As binturongs are not very nimble, they may have to descend to the ground relatively frequently when moving between trees.[14]

Five radio-collared binturongs in the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary exhibited an arrhythmic activity dominated by crepuscular and nocturnal tendencies with peaks in the early morning and late evening. Reduced inactivity periods occurred from midday to late afternoon. They moved between 25 m (82 ft) and 2,698 m (8,852 ft) daily in the dry season and increased their daily movement to 4,143 m (13,593 ft) in the wet season. Ranges sizes of males varied between 0.9 km2 (0.35 sq mi) and 6.1 km2 (2.4 sq mi). Two males showed slightly larger ranges in the wet season. Their ranges overlapped between 30–70%.[22] The average home range of a radio-collared female in the Khao Yai National Park was estimated at 4 km2 (1.5 sq mi), and the one of a male at 4.5 to 20.5 km2 (1.7 to 7.9 sq mi).[23]

They are essentially arboreal. Pocock observed the behaviour of several captive binturongs in the London Zoological Gardens. When resting they lie curled up, with the head tucked under the tail. They never leap, but climb skilfully, albeit slowly, progressing with equal ease and confidence along the upper side of branches or, upside down, beneath them, the prehensile tail being always in readiness as a help, and they descend the vertical bars of the cage head first, gripping them between their paws and using the prehensile tail as a check. When irritated they growl fiercely, and when on the prowl may periodically utter a series of low grunts or a hissing sound made by expelling the air through partially opened lips.[5]

Binturongs move about gently, often coming to a stop, and often using the tail to keep balance, clinging to a branch. They show a pronounced comfort behaviour associated with grooming the fur, shaking and licking the hair, and scratching. Shaking is the most characteristic element of comfort behaviour.[24]

Binturong also use the tail to communicate, through the scent glands on either side of the anus in both males and females. The females also possess paired scent glands on either side of the vulva.[25] Their musk glands emit an odor reminiscent of popcorn.[26]

Although they are sympatric with several potential predators, including leopards, clouded leopards and reticulated pythons, predation on adults is reportedly quite rare. Normally quite shy, they can be aggressive when harassed. It is reported to initially urinate or defecate on a threat and then, if teeth-baring and snarling does not additionally deter the threat, will use its powerful jaws and teeth in self-defense.[27]

Diet[edit]

Binturongs are omnivorous, feeding on small mammals, birds, fish, earthworms, insects and fruits.[7] Captive binturongs are particularly fond of plantains, but would also eat fowls' heads and eggs.[3] They also prey on rodents.[12] Fish and earthworms are likely unimportant items in their diet, as they are neither aquatic nor fossorial, coming across such prey only when opportunities present themselves. Since they do not have the attributes of a predatory mammal, most of the binturong's diet is probably of vegetable matter.[5] Figs are a major component of their diet.[15][21][28]

The binturong is an important agent for seed dispersal, especially for those of the strangler fig, because of its ability to scarify the seed's tough outer covering.[29]

In captivity, the binturong's diet includes commercially prepared meat mix, bananas, apples, oranges, canned peaches and mineral supplement.[9]

Reproduction[edit]

The estrous period of the binturong is 81 days, with a gestation of 91 days. The average age of sexual maturation is 30.4 months for females and 27.7 months for males. Fertility lasts until 15 years of age.[9] The binturong is one of approximately 100 species of mammal believed by many husbandry experts to be capable of embryonic diapause, or delayed implantation, which allows the female of the species to time parturition to coincide with favorable environmental conditions. Typical birthing is of two offspring, but up to six may occur.

The maximum known lifespan in captivity is thought to be over 25 years of age.[30]

Threats[edit]

Young binturong kept as a pet by Orang Asli at Taman Negara, Malaysia

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. Habitat loss has been severe in the lowlands of the Sundaic part of its range, and there is no evidence that the binturong uses the plantations that are largely replacing natural forest. In China, rampant deforestation and opportunistic logging practices have fragmented suitable habitat or eliminated sites altogether. In the Philippines, it is captured for the wildlife trade, and in the south of its range it is also taken for human consumption. In Lao PDR, it is one of most frequently displayed caged live carnivores and skins are traded frequently in at least Vientiane. In parts of Lao PDR, it is considered a delicacy and also traded as a food item to Vietnam.[2]

The Orang Asli of Malaysia keep binturong as pets.

Conservation[edit]

India included the binturong in CITES Appendix III. It is protected in Malaysia, and is listed as Critically Endangered on the China Red List.[2]

In captivity[edit]

Binturongs are common in zoos, and captive individuals represent a source of genetic diversity essential for long-term conservation. Typically, zoo animals have unknown geographic origin or are the offspring of several generations of captive-bred animals with no information on the geographic origin of the founders.[19]

In captivity, the binturong has been noted for its intelligence as well as its curious disposition. However, its occasional ill-temperament makes it a difficult pet at best and it is better handled by experienced wildlife handlers and zookeepers.[27][not in citation given]

Use as Mascot[edit]

Several Colleges throughout the United States have used the Binturong or "Bearcat" as their mascot including:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 549. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Widmann, P., De Leon, J. and Duckworth, J. W. (2008). "Arctictis binturong". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  3. ^ a b c Raffles, T. S. (1822). XVII. Descriptive Catalogue of a Zoological Collection, made on account of the Honourable East India Company, in the Island of Sumatra and its Vicinity, under the Direction of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Fort Marlborough', with additional Notices illustrative of the Natural History of those Countries. The Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume XIII: 239–274.
  4. ^ Wilkinson, R. J. (1901). A Malay-English dictionary Kelly & Walsh Limited, Hongkong, Shanghai and Yokohama.
  5. ^ a b c d Pocock, R. I. (1939). The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. Taylor and Francis, London. Pp. 431–439.
  6. ^ Scherren, H. (1902). The Encyclopædic Dictionary. Cassell and Company, London.
  7. ^ a b Blanford, W. T. (1888–91). 57. Arctictis binturong. Pages 117–119 in: The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. Taylor and Francis, London.
  8. ^ Arivazhagan, C. and K. Thiyagesan (2001). Studies on the Binturongs (Arctictis binturong) in captivity at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur. Zoos' Print Journal 16 (1): 395–402.
  9. ^ a b c Wemmer, C.; J. Murtaugh (1981). "Copulatory Behavior and Reproduction in the Binturong, Arctictis binturong". Journal of Mammalogy 62 (2): 342–352. doi:10.2307/1380710. JSTOR 1380710. 
  10. ^ Hunter, L. (2011). Carnivores of the World. Princeton University Press, ISBN 9780691152288
  11. ^ San Diego Zoo. "Mammal: Binturong". Sandiegozoo.org. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Lekalul, B. and McNeely, J. A. (1977). Mammals of Thailand. Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok.
  13. ^ Choudhury, A. (1997). The distribution and status of small carnivores (mustelids, viverrids, and herpestids) in Assam, India. Small Carnivore Conservation 16: 25–26.
  14. ^ a b Than Zaw, Saw Htun, Saw Htoo Tta Po, Myint Maung, Lynam, A. J., Kyaw Thinn Latt and Duckworth, J. W. (2008). Status and distribution of small carnivores in Myanmar. Small Carnivore Conservation 38: 2–28.
  15. ^ a b c Nettlebeck, A. R. (1997). Sightings of Binturongs Arctictis binturong in the Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. Small Carnivore Conservation 16: 21–24.
  16. ^ a b Duckworth, J. W. (1997). Small carnivores in Laos: a status review with notes on ecology, behaviour and conservation. Small Carnivore Conservation 16: 1–21.
  17. ^ Azlan, J. M. (2003). The diversity and conservation of mustelids, viverrids, and herpestids in a disturbed forest in Peninsular Malaysia. Small Carnivore Conservation 29: 8–9.
  18. ^ Rabor, D. S. (1986). Guide to the Philippine flora and fauna. Natural Resources Management Centre. Ministry of Natural Resources and University of the Philippines.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cosson, L., Grassman, L. L., Zubaid, A., Vellayan, S., Tillier, A., and Veron, G. (2007). Genetic diversity of captive binturongs (Arctictis binturong, Viverridae, Carnivora): implications for conservation. Journal of Zoology 271 (4): 386–395.
  20. ^ a b Ellerman, J. R., Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946. Second edition. British Museum of Natural History, London. Page 290
  21. ^ a b Datta, A. (1999). Small carnivores in two protected areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 96: 399–404.
  22. ^ Grassman, L. I., Jr.; M. E. Tewes; N. J. Silvy (2005). "Ranging, habitat use and activity patterns of binturong Arctictis binturong and yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula in north-central Thailand". Wildlife Biology 11 (1): 49–57. doi:10.2981/0909-6396(2005)11[49:RHUAAP]2.0.CO;2. 
  23. ^ Austin, S. C. (2002). Ecology of sympatric carnivores in the Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. PhD thesis, Texas University.
  24. ^ Rozhnov, V. V. (1994). Notes on the behaviour and ecology of the Binturong (Arctictis binturong) in Vietnam. Small Carnivore Conservation 10: 4–5.
  25. ^ Story, H. E. (1945). "The External Genitalia and Perfume Gland in Arctictis binturong". Journal of Mammalogy 26 (1): 64–66. doi:10.2307/1375032. 
  26. ^ Burenhult, N. and A. Majid (2011). Olfaction in Aslian Ideology and Language. Senses & Society 6 (1): 19–29.
  27. ^ a b Madya Dr. Ahmad Hj. Ismail Binturong. ukm.my
  28. ^ Lambert, F. (1990). Some notes on fig-eating by arboreal mammals in Malaysia. Primates 31 (3): 453–458.
  29. ^ Colon, C. P. and Campos-Arceiz, A. (2013). "The impact of gut passage by Binturongs (Arctictis binturong) on seed germination". The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 61 (1): 417–421. 
  30. ^ Macdonald, D.W. (2009). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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