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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024




Family : Viverridae
Species : Arctictis binturong

Head-body length : 65-95 cm
Tail length : 500-800 cm
Weight : up to 20 kg

The Binturong, or Bearcat, is a highly distinctive and easily recognised member of the civet family. It is mainly restricted to primary or tall secondary forest, but it can also survive in grassland-forest mosaic. It is not known to occur in plantations such as rubber or oil palm.

This unusual animal is mainly arboreal in habits, spending the day resting amongst tree branches or in a tree hole. Only occasionally is it seen on the ground.

At night the Binturong becomes more active as it searches for food: its diet comprises ripe figs and other fruits, but it also preys on small vertebrates, such as birds and rodents, as well as large insects.

Its body is muscular, and its tail is long and prehensile. Its head is relatively small, and its ears are small and rounded. Its fur is long and black, sometimes grizzled around the head, neck and lower flanks (i.e. each hair may be tipped with white).

The Binturong ranges from parts of northeastern India and adjacent territories (including Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal) and southern China through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the island of Palawan in the southern Philippines. It is classified as 'vulnerable' by IUCN as a result of habitat loss and over-hunting.

Although the species was first described by Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, in 1821 (as Viverra binturong), it is unclear whether it was once a native species there: there are no recent records from the territory.

Fig 1 :
 Trail camera image of a Binturong from lowland, primary forest in Peninsular Malaysia. Such images have shown this animal to be more terrestrial than was once thought (although it is primarily arboreal).

Image use courtesy MYCAT ゥ. 

References : M3, M5

Links : IUCN

Fig 1