Although binturongs are sometimes called “bearcats,” they are not actually related to bears or cats. These strange creatures are native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia.  Because they spend the majority of their lives in the canopy, their bodies are built for climbing. Their semi-retractable claws and rotating hind legs make moving from branch to branch easy. They even have a prehensile tail! This means that their tail can grip onto things and act like a fifth limb. It even has a leathery patch at the very tip for extra traction.

Binturongs are what’s known as a “keystone species.” In other words, if binturongs were removed from their ecosystem, the whole thing would collapse. The strangler fig, a plant which comprises a large percentage of the rainforest canopy layer, cannot germinate without assistance. The binturong is one of only two species of animal with the digestive enzymes capable of softening the outer layer of the seeds.

Did You Know?

Binturongs smell like buttered popcorn! The smell comes from the scent glands located under their tails. As they climb through the trees and drag their tail, they spread the scent to let other binturongs that this area is occupied. It can also help binturongs find each other when they want to mate.

  • Kingdom: Anamalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Viverridae
  • Genus: Arctictis
  • Species: binturong

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