Other name(s): Asian Bearcat; Palawan Bearcat
Scientific name: Arctictis binturong
The Binturong is a member of the Viverridae family, which includes Civets and Genets. Binturong are native to a number of countries in Southest Asia, where their natural habitat is dense tropical rainforests. Binturong are arboreal mammals that spend most of their time moving across tree canopies. In some areas of Malaysia, they are commonly kept as pets. In its native habitat, the Binturong is classified as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Appearance / health:
The Binturong is also called “bearcat” because it looks like a cross of a bear and a cat. It has long, course, and shaggy but glossy fur that is typically black or dark brown in color. The face is mostly gray with white whiskers. The eyes are brown. The ears are black, with long hair hanging from the tips. The limbs are short but stocky; the soles or the paws are naked and the claws are long and strong. The body length averages 2-3 feet and the bushy, prehensile tail is often as long as the body.
Behavior / temperament:
Binturongs are nocturnal and can be noisy when they forage at night (they screech when annoyed, chuckle when happy, and howl to call attention). They are unpredictable and temperamental and can become aggressive during the mating season. They sleep among tree branches. Under optimum conditions, they can live to more than 20 years.
Although neither popular nor recommended as pets, Binturongs are kept as house companions in some Asian countries. They are not domesticated and can be difficult to care for because they are arboreal, nocturnal, cannot be litter-trained, and secrete an odorous musk to mark their territory.
The ideal cage for the Binturong would be a large well-ventilated enclosure equipped with sturdy branches, nesting boxes, and shelving to satisfy their climbing tendencies.
The Binturong’s main diet is fruit but they are known to also eat leaves, tender shoots, small invertebrates, fish, birds, eggs, and small rodents. Like its cousin, the Kinkajou, the Binturong contributes to dispersing seeds and pollen in the forest area. In captivity, they appreciate fresh fruits and cooked vegetables like carrots and potatoes.
Not a pet.
My review numbers will make it look like I disliked my binturong experience, but that's not the case. This binturong was one of the most enjoyable zookeeping challenges I faced but from that experience I can only recommend these animals as zoological specimens in bona fide, accredited zoo programmes -- never as pets.
Binturongs are an evolutionary oxymoron -- a frugivorous carnivore, a thick-coated tropical animal, a Rip Van Winkle acrobat.
Binturongs have quite a few qualities that make them unsuitable as pets. First, they are huge -- one of the largest of the "small carnivores," and they are remarkably strong and flexible. They are agile climbers and enjoy exploring trees -- but only in the few night hours they spend awake. Binturongs are champion sleepers, and they take their sweet time about even considering waking up -- a prospect that needs to include food to even be on the "may be a remote possibility" list.
They need a diet diverse in fruits, fresh and different daily, along with primate biscuits or carnivore diet and eggs to supplement protein needs. Despite being tropical animals, they can't be allowed to overheat due to their dense coats. They are litter-trainable, but the litter pan has to be enormous to accommodate them (and their enormous droppings!).
Binturongs have a sort of natural agoraphobia, hardwired into them as rainforest animals with a sun and sky blocking canopy always overhead. They dislike open areas and will often stick to walls and corners if given the opportunity.
They can be trained to tolerate a harness being put on them, but it takes a gigantic amount of time to keep them interested in tolerating that -- as well as positive experiences while harnessed. However, any commercial harness is likely to provide only a false sense of security. Binturongs can very easily pull a harness off any time they want -- their bodies are not the right shape for commercial harnesses and their flexibility means they can shed a harness at a moment's notice.
That flexibility and strength gives more than harness-removing ability. Binturongs have an incredible capacity to harm people. They are carnivores and they have both the carnivore mentality and dentition. I have personally witnessed an unhappy and frightened binturong causing severe harm to a colleague -- an experience that happened very suddenly and for unknown reasons, and which set that animal's training back years.
I can't forget the extremely tender playful moments we had exploring tall grass, rolling in dead leaves, and enjoying quiet time one-on-one. Just about everything else proved to be a significant chore. After he was used by the zoo for some less-than-suitable public appearances, his tolerance to go out waned because he never knew if it was going to be a pleasant tall-grass playtime or a horrendous "meet and greet" fundraiser with lots of flashing lights and noisy people with strange smells and erratic movements.
This is one animal that needs to be left to the experts in accredited zoological institutions..
From bnaqqimanco Jul 28 2013 2:07PM