They look like mask-less raccoons with tufty whiskers and eyebrows. They have low, wide, muscular bodies. They have shaggy, dark brown coats that shade to black on their snouts, limbs and tails. They walk with their feet flat, like bears and humans. A leathery patch on the tip of their strong tail gives them extra traction while climbing. Binturongs are one of two carnivorous species with a prehensile tail (the other is the kinkajou).
Binturongs are also called bearcats but are not closely related to bears or cats. They are in the family Viverridae with other small cat-like mammals, including civets and fossas. They are the only members of the genus Arctic.
Female binturongs are among the species known to exhibit embryonic diapause (or delayed implantation). This means they breed when a mate is available, but the fertilized egg does not attach to the uterine wall until days or months later (making them truly pregnant) when conditions are most favorable. Once a binturong does become pregnant, gestation lasts 90 to 92 days.
Binturongs usually give birth to two babies, called binlets, at a time. They are born with their eyes closed, and they cling to their mother’s fur for the first few days of their lives. They stay with their mother until they are independent — sometimes even longer.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle — in that order! Cut back on single-use goods, and find creative ways to reuse products at the end of their life cycle. Choose recycling over trash when possible.
- Practice ecotourism by being an advocate for the environment when you’re on vacation. During your travels, support, visit or volunteer with organizations that protect wildlife. Shop smart too! Avoid buying products made from animals, which could support poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
- Share the story of this animal with others. Simply raising awareness about this species can contribute to its overall protection.
- Are you a student? Did you love what you learned about this animal? Make it the topic of your next school project, or start a conservation club at your school. You'll learn even more and share the importance of saving species with classmates and teachers, too.