Bearcat, Palawan binturong, Asian bearcat, Malay Civet cat

Arctictis binturong
Population size
Life Span
18-25 years
Top speed
km/h mph 
kg lbs 
cm inch 

The binturong (Arctictis binturong) is a carnivore of a medium size found in dense forests in South-East Asia. This animal is thought to be a close relative of the palm civet. It is the biggest member of this family.


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 of the binturong 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 and bare soles.




Binturongs have a wide range, from Bangladesh and north-eastern India to south-east Asia, including Guangxi and Yunnan in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. They are largely confined to the canopies of dense, tall tropical forests, although may be found sometimes in secondary forests. These animals are found in foothills and hills with good tree cover, but less so in the forested plains.

Binturong habitat map

Climate zones

Binturong habitat map
Attribution-ShareAlike License

Habits and Lifestyle

Binturongs are active during the day and at night. They are generally solitary animals, spending the majority of their time moving slowly and cautiously in the treetops. They live in trees and are excellent climbers, but because of their large size, they are not able to leap between trees and therefore have to descend to the ground to move from one tree to another. They can also swim and dive well, often spending time in the water to cool off when the weather is hot. Although they are usually solitary, small groups of these animals are not uncommon, usually consisting of a male and female pair and their young. In such a group, the female is the dominant adult. This species is very vocal and can make a range of sounds, both to communicate and to issue a warning to species that it considers a threat. Chuckling sounds seem to indicate that they are happy and a high-pitched wail means that they are aggravated. Binturongs also use their tail to communicate. They move about gently, often coming to a stop, and often using the tail to keep balance, clinging to a branch.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Binturongs are omnivorous and feed on small mammals, birds, fish, earthworms, insects, and fruits. They also prey on rodents, fish, and earthworms. Figs, however, are a major component of their diet.

Mating Habits

84-99 days
2-6 young
6-8 weeks

There is little research available regarding the binturong’s mating system. It has been observed that the father in a mated pair remains with the mother and their young after birth, suggesting a monogamous system. However, males do not always stay to help raise the young. A reproductive season for this species does not seem likely, because mating takes place throughout the year. However, there is an increase in the birth rate between January and March, which is possibly due to delayed implantation. The gestation period is 84-99 days, and usually 2 young are born, but there can be as many as 6. Young stay hidden amongst their mother’s fur during the first few days. They are weaned at around 6-8 weeks. Young females become reproductively mature at about 30 months of age and males when they are 28 months old


Population threats

Restricted to areas with high forest coverage, this species is threatened by habitat loss. Throughout its range, degradation, and conversion of the forest is commonplace, and the species being extinct in much of India is mainly attributed to deforestation. Despite an aggressive appearance, the binturong becomes quite affectionate once domesticated. As a consequence, it is caught and sold in the Philippines for the pet trade. In mainland Asia, it is also frequently trapped for the fur trade, and for food, particularly in China and Vietnam, where they are considered a delicacy.

Population number

The Binturong used to be relatively common within its distribution range, but it is now mostly uncommon or rare. No population estimate is available. Because of a declining population trend currently, this species is classified by the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable (VU) and its numbers today are decreasing.

Ecological niche

Binturongs are described often as keystone species in their ecosystems. This species is the only animal known to disperse strangler fig seeds. As predators, they may influence the numbers of their prey species.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Binturongs and kinkajous are the only two carnivores with a prehensile tail.
  • Binturongs have a smell like popcorn, which comes from their scent gland beneath their tail. Both males and females produce this scent to warn off others of their species or to attract mates. They have glands on each of their 4 paws, and with their hind feet, they rub the scent onto their legs.
  • A binturong’s tail is the same length as its body and is very strong. They can balance by lying across branches with all of their feet dangling.
  • The meaning of ‘binturong’ is lost because the local language from which it came is extinct.
  • ‘Bearcat’ is a name that is also used for the Red panda.
  • Binturongs walk with flat feet, like bears and people, resulting in a side-to-side, ambling gait.
  • The newly born baby binturongs are often referred to as shruggles.

Coloring Pages


1. Binturong Wikipedia article -
2. Binturong on The IUCN Red List site -

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About