binturong

A binturong posted on a platform. Image taken at West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon, Oregon.

Nocturnal and arboreal, binturongs are difficult to study or observe so there is not much known about this adorable, old-man of an animal. As far as we know, they are the largest member of the civet family. They have a long prehensile tail that they use for steadying themselves as they climb through the trees. They can walk upside down on a tree, hanging from the branches but have never been observed making leaps. Much like opossums, it is doubtful that adults can support their whole weight with their prehensile tail, but the young can.

binturong

A binturong staring at the sky. Image taken at West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon, Oregon.

They are carnivores, consuming birds and small mammals and catching them with surprising speed. They are also capable swimmers and able to dive and hunt for fish. Still, they will also sometimes eat ripe fruit, especially figs and will invade plantations or steal fruit from houses. They eat bananas like they do in cartoons, by squeezing the end and popping the fruit out of its peel.

binturong

A binturong licking its nose. Image taken at the West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon, Oregon.

These animals are usually solitary, although sometimes one or two adults can be seen with young. They defend themselves by biting, with a bite strong enough to sever fingers. They will also growl loudly and spit, with violent movements, scaring off many potential predators.

They are listed as vulnerable due to hunting, trapping for the pet trade and loss of habitat. They have been bred in captivity and the captive animals make a wide variety of calls. You can hear some of these calls here.

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