Binturong – Characteristics, habitat, feeding and reproduction
The binturong ( Arctictis binturong ) is an Asian animal. It has particular characteristics, which makes it stand out within the Viveride family to which it belongs. One of these characteristics is that it is considered the largest species in its group, given its dimensions. The binturong is also known as the matron or cat-bear or bear, although it does not resemble any of these animals in particular.
taxonomic classification of binturong
The manturon or bearcat is taxonomically classified as follows:
- Kingdom: Animal
- Border: Corded
- Class: Mammal
- Order: Carnivore
- Family: Viverridae
- Genre: Arctictis
- Species: Arctictis binturong
Regarding the existence of subspecies of Arctictis binturong some scientists recognize nine, however, more recent positions express the need to revise this classification due to several controversies in this regard.  .
As mentioned, it is the largest species among the Viverids, with a weight range between 9 and 20 kg. As for the length, it can reach around 100 cm, although the length of the tail must be added to this figure since it can measure around 90 cm. Furthermore, the tail of the binturong is characterized by being prehensile, which makes it one of the few carnivores with this peculiarity.
Continuing with the characteristics of the binturong, he has a rather long coat, black and rough in colour, eventually with grey tips. Facial hair is less abundant and usually a little lighter, with greyish or slightly lighter streaks over the eyes; he also has white-haired moustaches. The ears are small, with tufts of hair sticking out of them. As for the eyes, they are also small, with a reddish-brown colour.
Sexual dimorphism in binturong is present in relation to size, as females are slightly larger than males.
The shawl or bear cat, although not very territorial, has solitary customs and generally avoids other individuals of the species. It has arboreal habits, for which it has its prehensile tail. However, due to its weight, in some cases it is difficult to jump between trees, so it also develops soil activity to move from one plant to another.
There are contradictory reports regarding the times when it develops more activity, as some report that they are generally nocturnal or twilight, with little action during the day, while other studies indicate that the species is active during the day.  . Another of their customs is the ability to swim for food.
The binturong communicates mainly through the olfactory route , and is that both men and women have two glands close to the anus. The female also has two additional glands close to the vulva. These structures produce an odor that has been described as similar to that of popcorn, which is found on trees, being a way of indicating their presence in the area. He also uses certain vocalizations such as growls, howls and a sort of whistle to communicate.
Where does binturong live?
Binturong is a type native to Asia , countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
As for the binturong’s habitat, in some countries such as the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, this animal thrives in large areas of perennial forests. While in others, such as the Philippines, it is located both in primary and secondary lowland forests, but also grasslands. It usually lives at heights from almost sea level to 400 m, and has been exceptionally sighted at almost 1000 masl.
On the other hand, binturong can develop in some forests and even in abandoned ecosystems that have been cleared. However, there is no evidence to show that it is in intermediary spaces that they remain active.
What does binturong eat?
Although taxonomically located in the order of carnivorous animals, the binturong’s diet is mainly fruit-based, particularly a strangler fig such as the Ficus Altissima species, so its diet is preferentially frugiferous.
However, you can also consume other parts of plants, such as buds and leaves, in addition to insects, fish, birds, rodents, eggs and even carrion, so that in a strict sense it is an omnivorous animal.
Females mature sexually at two and a half years, while males do so a little earlier. The species has higher reproductive rates from January to March, although it can reproduce throughout the year . Males are generally defensive towards females, except when they are receptive, a fact they communicate through purring. Gestation lasts 90-92 days and litters are usually of two puppies, although they can be more, with a maximum of six.
Newborn binturong weighs an average of 142 grams, have their eyes closed and are hidden in their mother’s fur for the first few days. Six to eight weeks after birth is the time for weaning. Generally, the care of the litter is done only by the mother and it is common to see females alone with their young, but eventually, some males share the activity until the young are independent. In some cases, the family group can be maintained, even when the offspring no longer need parental care.
The binturong is a species with certain longevity, being able to live up to 18 years in the wild, while in captivity it is documented that they can live up to 25 years.
conservation status of binturong
Binturong is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN due to its population decline trend and because it is uncommon or rare to see it in its natural range of distribution. In fact, binturong in some regions is estimated to be close to local extinction.
Threats to the species include its trafficking for sale as pets, hunting for human consumption, in some countries it is the species that is mostly kept in cages for display and includes the sale of its fur. Although in some areas where the species is located there are laws and treaties for its protection, as well as the maintenance of certain protected areas, the stricter application of measures that really guarantee the conservation of binturong in its natural habitat.
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