Rightpet

Binturong

Overall satisfaction

1/5

Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)

Gender: Male

Appearance

5/5

Friendly

1/5

Easy to handle

1/5

Activity level

1/5

Visibility

1/5

Health

4/5

Easy to clean and maintain habitat

N/A

Easy to feed

N/A

Easy to provide habitat

2/5

Not a pet.

By

Pennsylvania, United States

Posted Jul 28, 2013

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.

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