The binturong (Arctictis binturong) (// bin-TOO-rong), also known as bearcat, is a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is uncommon in much of its range, and has been assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because of a declining population trend that is estimated at more than 30% since the mid 1980s.
The binturong was first described by Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1822. The genus Arctictis is a monotypic taxon; its morphology is similar as of the genera Paradoxurus and Paguma. The name Arctictis means 'bear-weasel', from Greek arkt- 'bear' + iktis 'weasel'. In Riau, Indonesia it was known as tenturun.
The binturong is long and heavy, with short, stout legs. It has a thick coat of coarse black hair. The bushy and prehensile tail is thick at the root, gradually tapering, and curls inwards at the tip. The muzzle is short and pointed, somewhat turned up at the nose, and is covered with bristly hairs, brown at the points, which lengthen as they diverge, and form a peculiar radiated circle round the face. The eyes are large, black and prominent. The ears are short, rounded, edged with white, and terminated by tufts of black hair. There are six short rounded incisors in each jaw, two canines, which are long and sharp, and six molars on each side. The hair on the legs is short and of a yellowish tinge. The feet are five-toed, with large strong claws; the soles are bare, and applied to the ground throughout the whole of their length; the hind ones are longer than the fore.
In general build the binturong is essentially like Paradoxurus and Paguma but more massive in the length of the tail, legs and feet, in the structure of the scent glands and larger size of rhinarium, which is more convex with a median groove being much narrower above the philtrum. The contour hairs of the coat are much longer and coarser, and the long hairs clothing the whole of the back of the ears project beyond the tip as a definite tuft. The anterior bursa flap of the ears is more widely and less deeply emarginate. The tail is more muscular, especially at the base, and in colour generally like the body, but commonly paler at the base beneath. The body hairs are frequently partly whitish or buff, giving a speckled appearance to the pelage, sometimes so pale that the whole body is mostly straw-coloured or grey, the young being often at all events paler than the adults, but the head is always closely speckled with grey or buff. The long mystacial vibrissae are conspicuously white, and there is a white rim on the summit of the otherwise black ear. The glandular area is whitish. The tail is nearly as long as the head and body, which ranges from 71 to 84 cm (28 to 33 in); the tail is 66 to 69 cm (26 to 27 in) long. Some captive binturongs measured from 76 cm (2 ft 6 in) to 91 cm (3 ft) in head and body with a tail of 71 cm (2 ft 4 in). Mean weight of captive adult females is 21.9 kg (48 lb) with a range from 11 to 32 kg (24 to 71 lb). Captive animals often weigh more than wild counterparts.
Both sexes have scent glands; females on either side of the vulva, and males between the scrotum and penis. The musk glands emit an odor reminiscent of popcorn or corn chips, likely due to the volatile compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline in the urine, which is also produced in the Maillard reaction at high temperatures. Unlike most other carnivorans, the male binturong does not have a baculum.
Distribution and habitat
The binturong occurs from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Yunnan in China, and from Sumatra, Kalimantan and Java in Indonesia to Palawan in the Philippines. It is confined to tall forest. In Assam, it is common in foothills and hills with good tree cover, but less so in the forested plains. It has been recorded in Manas National Park, in Dulung and Kakoi Reserved Forests of the Lakhimpur district, in the hill forests of Karbi Anglong, North Cachar Hills, Cachar and Hailakandi Districts. In Myanmar, binturongs were photographed on the ground in Tanintharyi Nature Reserve at an elevation of 60 m (200 ft), in the Hukaung Valley at elevations from 220–280 m (720–920 ft), in the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Reserve at 580 m (1,900 ft) and at three other sites up to 1,190 m (3,900 ft) elevation. In Thailand's Khao Yai National Park, several individuals were observed feeding in a fig tree and on a vine. In Laos, they have been observed in extensive evergreen forest. In Malaysia, binturongs were recorded in secondary forest surrounding a palm estate that was logged in the 1970s. In Palawan, it inhabits primary and secondary lowland forest, including grassland–forest mosaic from sea level to 400 m (1,300 ft).
Viverra binturong was the scientific name proposed by Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1822 for a specimen from Malacca. The generic name Arctictis was proposed by Coenraad Jacob Temminck in 1824. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the following zoological specimens were described:
- Paradoxurus albifrons proposed by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822 was based on a drawing of a binturong from Bhutan prepared by Alfred Duvaucel.
- Arctictis penicillata by Temminck in 1835 were specimens from Sumatra and Java.
- Arctictis whitei proposed by Joel Asaph Allen in 1910 were skins of two female binturongs collected in Palawan island, Philippines.
- Arctictis pageli proposed by Ernst Schwarz in 1911 was a skin and skull of a female collected in northern Borneo.
- Arctictis gairdneri proposed by Oldfield Thomas in 1916 was a skull of a male binturong collected in southwestern Thailand.
- Arctictis niasensis proposed by Marcus Ward Lyon Jr. in 1916 was a binturong skin from Nias island.
- A. b. kerkhoveni by Henri Jacob Victor Sody in 1936 was based on specimens from Bangka Island.
- A. b. menglaensis by Wang and Li in 1987 was based on specimens from Yunnan province.
Ecology and behavior
The Binturong is active during the day and at night. Three sightings in Pakke Tiger Reserve were by day. Thirteen camera trap photograph events in Myanmar involved one around dusk, seven in full night and five in broad daylight. All photographs were of single animals, and all were taken on the ground. As binturongs are not very nimble, they may have to descend to the ground relatively frequently when moving between trees.
Five radio-collared binturongs in the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary exhibited an arrhythmic activity dominated by crepuscular and nocturnal tendencies with peaks in the early morning and late evening. Reduced inactivity periods occurred from midday to late afternoon. They moved between 25 m (82 ft) and 2,698 m (8,852 ft) daily in the dry season and increased their daily movement to 4,143 m (13,593 ft) in the wet season. Ranges sizes of males varied between 0.9 km2 (0.35 sq mi) and 6.1 km2 (2.4 sq mi). Two males showed slightly larger ranges in the wet season. Their ranges overlapped between 30–70%. The average home range of a radio-collared female in the Khao Yai National Park was estimated at 4 km2 (1.5 sq mi), and the one of a male at 4.5 to 20.5 km2 (1.7 to 7.9 sq mi).
The binturong is essentially arboreal. Pocock observed the behaviour of several captive individuals in the London Zoological Gardens. When resting they lie curled up, with the head tucked under the tail. They seldom leaped, but climbed skillfully, albeit slowly, progressing with equal ease and confidence along the upper side of branches or, upside down, beneath them. The prehensile tail was always ready as a help. They descended the vertical bars of the cage head first, gripping them between their paws and using the prehensile tail as a check. When irritated they growled fiercely. When on the prowl they periodically uttered a series of low grunts or a hissing sound made by expelling air through partially opened lips.
The binturong uses the tail to communicate. It moves about gently, often coming to a stop, and often using the tail to keep balance, clinging to a branch. It shows a pronounced comfort behaviour associated with grooming the fur, shaking and licking the hair, and scratching. Shaking is the most characteristic element of comfort behaviour.
The species is normally quite shy, but aggressive when harassed. It is reported to initially urinate or defecate on a threat and then, if teeth-baring and snarling does not deter the threat, it uses its powerful jaws and teeth in self-defense. When threatened, the binturong will usually flee into a nearby tree, but as a defense mechanism the binturong may sometimes balance on its tail and flash its claws to appear threatening to potential predators. Predation on adult binturong is reportedly quite rare by sympatric species like leopard, clouded leopard and reticulated python.
The binturong is omnivorous, feeding on small mammals, birds, fish, earthworms, insects and fruits. It also preys on rodents. Fish and earthworms are likely unimportant items in its diet, as it is neither aquatic nor fossorial, coming across such prey only when opportunities present themselves. Since it does not have the attributes of a predatory mammal, most of the binturong's diet is probably of vegetable matter. Figs are a major component of its diet. Captive binturongs are particularly fond of plantains, but also eat fowls' heads and eggs.
The average age of sexual maturation is 30.4 months for females and 27.7 months for males. The estrous cycle of the binturong lasts 18 to 187 days, with an average of 82.5 days. Gestation lasts 84 to 99 days. Litter size in captivity varies from one to six young, with an average of two young per birth. Neonates weigh between 283.8 and 340.5 g (0.626 and 0.751 lb), and are often referred to as shruggles. Fertility lasts until 15 years of age.
The maximum known lifespan in captivity is thought to be over 25 years of age.
Major threats to the binturong are habitat loss and degradation of forests through logging and conversion of forests to non-forest land-uses throughout the binturong's range. Habitat loss has been severe in the lowlands of the Sundaic part of its range, and there is no evidence that the binturong uses the plantations that are largely replacing natural forest. In China, rampant deforestation and opportunistic logging practices have fragmented suitable habitat or eliminated sites altogether. In the Philippines, it is captured for the wildlife trade, and in the south of its range it is also taken for human consumption. In Laos, it is one of the most frequently displayed caged live carnivores and skins are traded frequently in at least Vientiane. In parts of Laos, it is considered a delicacy and also traded as a food item to Vietnam.
The Orang Asli of Malaysia keep binturong as pets.
India included the binturong in CITES Appendix III and in Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act 1973, so that it has the highest level of protection. In China, it is listed as critically endangered. It is completely protected in Bangladesh, and partially in Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Licensed hunting of binturong is allowed in Indonesia, and it is not protected in Brunei.
World Binturong Day, an event dedicated to binturong awareness and conservation, takes place yearly every second Saturday of May.
Binturongs are common in zoos, and captive individuals represent a source of genetic diversity essential for long-term conservation. Their geographic origin is either usually unknown, or they are offspring of several generations of captive-bred animals.
- Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Species Arctictis binturong". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 549. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Willcox, D.H.A.; Chutipong, W.; Gray, T.N.E.; Cheyne, S.; Semiadi, G.; Rahman, H.; Coudrat, C.N.Z.; Jennings, A.; Ghimirey, Y.; Ross, J.; Fredriksson, G. & Tilker, A. (2016). "Arctictis binturong". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T41690A45217088. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
- Raffles, T. S. (1822). "XVII. Descriptive Catalogue of a Zoological Collection, made on account of the Honourable East India Company, in the Island of Sumatra and its Vicinity, under the Direction of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Fort Marlborough', with additional Notices illustrative of the Natural History of those Countries". The Transactions of the Linnean Society of London. XIII: 239–274.
- Pocock, R. I. (1939). "Genus Arctictis Temminck". The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 431–439.
- Scherren, H. (1902). The Encyclopædic Dictionary. Cassell and Company, London.
- Wilkinson, R. J. (1901). A Malay-English dictionary Kelly & Walsh Limited, Hongkong, Shanghai and Yokohama.
- Blanford, W. T. (1888–91). "57. Arctictis binturong". The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 117–119.
- Arivazhagan, C. & Thiyagesan, K. (2001). "Studies on the Binturongs (Arctictis binturong) in captivity at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur". Zoos' Print Journal. 16 (1): 395–402. doi:10.11609/JoTT.ZPJ.16.1.395-402.
- Wemmer, C.; J. Murtaugh (1981). "Copulatory Behavior and Reproduction in the Binturong, Arctictis binturong" (PDF). Journal of Mammalogy. 62 (2): 342–352. doi:10.2307/1380710. JSTOR 1380710.
- Story, H. E. (1945). "The External Genitalia and Perfume Gland in Arctictis binturong". Journal of Mammalogy. 26 (1): 64–66. doi:10.2307/1375032. JSTOR 1375032.
- Kleiman, D. G. (1974). "Scent marking in the binturong, Arctictis binturong" (PDF). Journal of Mammalogy. 55 (1): 224–227. doi:10.2307/1379278. JSTOR 1379278.
- Greene, L. K.; Wallen, T. W.; Moresco, A.; Goodwin, T. E. & Drea, C. M. (2016). "Reproductive endocrine patterns and volatile urinary compounds of Arctictis binturong: discovering why bearcats smell like popcorn". The Science of Nature. 103 (5–6): 37. Bibcode:2016SciNa.103...37G. doi:10.1007/s00114-016-1361-4. PMID 27056047. S2CID 16439829.
- Schultz, Nicholas G.; Lough-Stevens, Michael; Abreu, Eric; Orr, Teri; Dean, Matthew D. (2016-06-01). "The Baculum was Gained and Lost Multiple Times during Mammalian Evolution". Integrative and Comparative Biology. 56 (4): 644–56. doi:10.1093/icb/icw034. ISSN 1540-7063. PMC 6080509. PMID 27252214.
- Lekalul, B.; McNeely, J. A. (1977). Mammals of Thailand. Bangkok: Association for the Conservation of Wildlife.
- Choudhury, A. (1997). "The distribution and status of small carnivores (mustelids, viverrids, and herpestids) in Assam, India" (PDF). Small Carnivore Conservation. 16: 25–26. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-29.
- Than Zaw, Saw Htun, Saw Htoo Tta Po, Myint Maung, Lynam, A. J., Kyaw Thinn Latt and Duckworth, J. W. (2008). "Status and distribution of small carnivores in Myanmar" (PDF). Small Carnivore Conservation (38): 2–28. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-28.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Nettlebeck, A. R. (1997). "Sightings of Binturongs Arctictis binturong in the Khao Yai National Park, Thailand" (PDF). Small Carnivore Conservation (16): 21–24. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-29.
- Duckworth, J. W. (1997). "Small carnivores in Laos: a status review with notes on ecology, behaviour and conservation" (PDF). Small Carnivore Conservation (16): 1–21. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-29.
- Azlan, J. M. (2003). "The diversity and conservation of mustelids, viverrids, and herpestids in a disturbed forest in Peninsular Malaysia" (PDF). Small Carnivore Conservation (29): 8–9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-29.
- Rabor, D. S. (1986). Guide to the Philippine flora and fauna. Manila: Natural Resources Management Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and University of the Philippines.
- Temminck, C. J. (1824). "XVII Genre Arctictis". Monographies de mammalogie. Paris: Dufour & d'Ocagne. p. xxi.
- Ellerman, J. R.; Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. (1966). "Genus Arctictis. Temminck, 1824". Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946 (Second ed.). London: British Museum of Natural History. p. 290.
- Cuvier, F. (1822). "Benturong". In Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, E.; Cuvier, F. (eds.). Histoire naturelle des mammifères : avec des figures originales, coloriées, dessinées d'aprèsdes animaux vivans. 5. Paris: A. Belin.
- Temminck, C. J. (1835). "Arcticte Binturong – Arctictis binturong". Monographies de Mammalogie. II. Paris, Leiden: Dufour, Van der Hoek. pp. 308–311.
- Allen, J. A. (1910). "Mammals from Palawan Island, Philippine Islands" (PDF). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 28: 13–17.
- Schwarz, E. (1911). "Seven new Asiatic mammals with Note on the Viverra fasciata of Gmelin". The Annals and Magazine of Natural History; Zoology, Botany, and Geology. 8. 7 (37): 634–640. doi:10.1080/00222931108692986.
- Thomas, O. (1916). "A new Binturong from Siam". The Annals and Magazine of Natural History; Zoology, Botany, and Geology. 8. 17 (99): 270–271. doi:10.1080/00222931508693780.
- Lyon, M. W., Jr. (1916). "Mammals collected by Dr. W. L. Abbott on the chain of islands lying off the western coast of Sumatra, with descriptions of twenty-eight new species and subspecies". Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 52 (2188): 437–462. doi:10.5479/si.00963801.52-2188.437.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Sody, H. J. V. (1937). On the mammals of Banka. Leiden: Brill.
- Cosson, L.; Grassman, L. L.; Zubaid, A.; Vellayan, S.; Tillier, A.; Veron, G. (2007). "Genetic diversity of captive binturongs (Arctictis binturong, Viverridae, Carnivora): implications for conservation" (PDF). Journal of Zoology. 271 (4): 386–395. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00209.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-12.
- Datta, A. (1999). Small carnivores in two protected areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 96: 399–404.
- Grassman, L. I. Jr.; M. E. Tewes; N. J. Silvy (2005). "Ranging, habitat use and activity patterns of binturong Arctictis binturong and yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula in north-central Thailand" (PDF). Wildlife Biology. 11 (1): 49–57. doi:10.2981/0909-6396(2005)11[49:RHUAAP]2.0.CO;2.
- Austin, S. C. (2002). Ecology of sympatric carnivores in the Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. PhD thesis, Texas University.
- Rozhnov, V. V. (1994). Notes on the behaviour and ecology of the Binturong (Arctictis binturong) in Vietnam. Small Carnivore Conservation 10 Archived 2015-04-29 at the Wayback Machine: 4–5.
- Ismail, M. A. Hj. (??). Binturong Archived February 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
- Lambert, F. (1990). "Some notes on fig-eating by arboreal mammals in Malaysia". Primates. 31 (3): 453–458. doi:10.1007/BF02381118. S2CID 2911086.
- Colon, C. P. & Campos-Arceiz, A. (2013). "The impact of gut passage by Binturongs (Arctictis binturong) on seed germination" (PDF). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 61 (1): 417–421.
- Macdonald, D.W. (2009). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- "événements". ABConservation. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
|Wikispecies has information related to Arctictis binturong|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Arctictis binturong.|