Sunday, July 17, 2011

Arctictis binturong

The binturong is an arboreal animal, meaning it lives in the trees. Binturongs have black fur and can weigh 30 to 40 pounds. From head to tail they are 46 to 73 inches long, but their body length is only 24 to 39 inches long. Its prehensile tail is very useful when climbing in the trees and hanging on branches. They can walk upside down hanging from branches with the use of their tail. The tail is also used as a brake when running head first down a tree, like a squirrel. When resting in a tree, it will lie on its stomach with its feet dangling, but its tail will have a firm hold, protecting it from falling. Its curved claws are used for holding on to uneven surfaces on the trees. The well-developed pads on the bottom of the paws help it run on the branches of trees. But when they are on the ground, binturongs walk flat-footed like bears.

The binturong can be found in the tropical and sub-tropical forests of Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Palaway Island, Burma, Indochina, Sumatra, Bangka, Java, Borneo, and possibly Nepal. The binturong is rare in its current range due to habitat destruction.

Although mostly nocturnal, the binturong sometimes comes out and can be seen sunning itself stretched out on a branch. It lies in the treetops, curled up with its head tucked under its tail. But mostly binturongs are nocturnal animals, and they usually hunt at this time. Their diet consists of both plant and animal matter. They usually eat moving prey and fruit. Binturongs eat carrion, rodents, eggs, birds, bananas, melon, grapes, apples, oranges, carrots and cooked sweet potatoes. Unlike cats, their bite is not aimed at a specific bodypart and birds are not plucked before eating.
Binturongs are very good swimmers and are very playful. They have been known to leap 5 feet into the air and kill animals by leaping on them.

Binturongs breed in March, April, October and November. Binturongs begin breeding at age two. Usually one or two young are born after a gestation period of 92 days. At birth they weigh 11 ounces. Females have two pairs of teats and the young nurse for at least 8 weeks. Both parents care for the young and remain in contact with it, espescially, when its nine weeks old and begins to leave and return to the nest. Binturongs mostly live alone but can easily live with their parents.

The binturong has a keen sense of smell, and it has good vision and hearing. Binturongs have an unusual odor like buttered popcorn, and they mark their territory by scent. They mark it by secreting a musky substance from scent glands which they spread as they walk through their territory.When the binturong is moving, it sometimes makes low grunts or a hissing noise.

Although they are usually very tame, binturongs can be aggressive when they are cornered. If they get really mad, they can give a very powerful bite. Otherwise when they are challenged by another animal, they give a low growl and spit.

The Brandywine Zoo binturongs are Darla and Oscar. Darla is a female who was born 3/29/97 in Charming Forge Farm. Oscar is a male who was born 1/18/97 in the Cleveland Metro park Zoo.

Arctictis binturong is an ancient mammal which is over 2 feet long with a tail measuring about 2 feet. Its weight is about 25 pounds while females are even heavier. Its fur colour may vary from dark brown to black. The Binturong has got agile body so there is no problem when climbing the trees, where it spends most of its time.
It is spread in sub-Saharan Africa, southern Europe and southern parts of Asia. There it inhabits tropical forests where often rains. The binturong is a nocturnal carnivore with perfect sight during the night, excellent hearing and a great smell. Its prey only occasionally survives when hunting. Its diet consists of carrions, small mammals, birds, chicks, rodents but it eats fruit and insects too. It can be found mostly in small groups. It lives up to 20 years.

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