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It is also called bearcat, but it is neither a cat, nor a bear, it is a binturong! It is part of the family Viverridae, just as the civet or the European genet.

Scientific name

Arctictis binturong

Distribution / Habitat

Southeast Asia, in large unlogged forests

Population size
Body size (from nose to tail)

Ranging from 120cm to 180cm


From 9kg up to 24kg


Omnivorous. 80% of fruit. Small prey. 

Conservation status

Vulnerable (IUCN 2016)


Credit E. Maizeray
An adult binturong measures between 60 and 90 cm. It can weigh between 9 and 24 kg.

The color of its hair varies from dark gray to light gray and can be tinged with brown. Its ears are round, edged in white and end in a puff of hair like the lynx. Her eyes are chocolate brown. It has very powerful front legs and long claws that allow it to climb trees and move easily on branches. To keep his balance, he can also use his tail, which is prehensile. This means he can pick things up with it and use it to hold on to branches to keep from falling. An adult binturong measures between 60 and 90cm plus a tail that can reach 90cm8. Its weight can range from 9 to 24 kg6.8. Its weight can range from 9 to 24 kg6.

It has a popcorn-like scent, which comes from the secretions from its perineal glands

It is known to smell like buttered popcorn. This is due to a compound in its urine, which could allow it to communicate with other individuals of its species by giving information such as its sex and reproductive status3.
The binturong is arboreal, which means it spends most of its life in trees, but it has also been observed on the ground, most probably because of gaps in the canopy9&12. It is a nocturnal animal2, but studies have reported cases of activity during daytime12.

Credit E. Maizeray

Geographic distribution

The binturong lives in Southeast Asia, in large unlogged forests.

The binturong is a mammal that lives in primary and secondary forests of Southeast Asia.

It can be found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia (on Java, Kalimantan, Borneo, and Sumatra), Malaysia (on Sarawak Island, Sabah (Borneo) and the Malaysian Peninsula), Myanmar, Nepal and the Philippines (on Palawan Island only)11.


Credit E. Maizeray
Its diet is comprised of 80% fruit.

Although it belongs to the order Carnivora because of its dental features, it is not carnivorous, but rather omnivorous. It can feed on rodents and birds, but the majority of its diet is made up of fruit. It particularly likes figs, which grow on trees of the genus Ficus7&10. In a way, it is one of the most frugivorous carnivores10.

When eating a fruit, the binturong swallows it whole, with seeds or kernels. The digested seeds sprout faster1 and are dispersed as the binturong moves across the forest. For this reason, it has an important role in the regeneration of the forests.

Figs - Image by Drago Gazdik from Pixabay


Credit E. Maizeray
bébé binturong

Baby binturong - Credit: E.Baril

There may be 1 to 4 binturongs per litter.

Binturongs breed throughout the year.After a gestation period of 3 months, the female binturong gives birth to a litter of 1 to 4 little binturongs. They are born blind and are nursed by their mother for more than 3 months. Around 25 days after their birth, their teeth start to grow and starting their 45th day, they can eat solid food (fruit, meat ...).


Despite their teeth and claws, binturongs are likely to be predated on by tigers (Panthera tigris) and dholes (Cuon alpinus) in Thailand12. In the Malaysian Peninsula, a case of predation on a binturong by a clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) has been reported4.

Tiger - Image by Edo Emmerig from Pixabay

Dhole - Image by A. Petry

Clouded leopard - Image by skeeze from Pixabay


It is mainly threatened by deforestation and illegal wildlife trade, as it can be sold as a pet or used for its fur and meat11. This is why it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List11.

Deforestation - Image by Edo Emmerig from Pixabay

Trapped binturong - Langogan, Palawan island, Philippines. Credit P. Kayser

Several zoological institutions in the world are taking part in binturong conservation, particularly in the context of captive breedings programs, such as the European Endangered Species Programs (also called EEPs) created by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Below you can find a map of zoological institutions that are partners of ABConservation and are participating in such conservation programs.

You fell in love with the binturong and want to help us? Make a donation!

Donations are of precious help for the implementation of our various programs in France and the Philippines. For more information about our projects, visit our projects page.

Credit E. Maizeray


1 Colon C.P, Campos-Arceiz A., 2013, The impact of gut passage by binturongs (Arctictis binturong) on seed germination, The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 61, 417-421

2 Grassman Jr. L.I., Tewes M.E., Silvy N.J., 2005, Ranging, habitat use and activity patterns of binturong Arctictis binturong and Yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula in north-central Thailand, Wildlife Biology, 11, 49-57,[49:RHUAAP]2.0.CO;2

3 Green L.K., Wallen T.W., Moresco A., Goodwin T.E., Drea C.M., 2016, Reproductive endocrive atterns and volatile urinary compounds of Arctictis biturong: discovering why bearcats smell like popcorn, The Science of Nature,

4 Lam W.Y, Hedges L., Clements G.R, 2014, First record of a clouded leopard predating on a binturong, Catnews, 60, 33

5 Lambert J.E., Fellner V., McKenney E., Hartstone-Rose A., 2014, Binturong (Arctictis binturong) and Kinkajou (Potos flavus) digestive strategy:  Implication for interpreting Frugivory in Carnivora and Primates, PLuS ONE,

6 Moresco A., and Larsen R.S., 2003, Medetomidine-ketamine-butorphanol anesthetic combinations in binturongs (Arctictis binturong),  Journal Zoo Wildlife Medicine Off. Publ. Am. Assoc. Zoo Vet. 34, 346–351.

7Nakabayashi M., Ahmad A.H., Kohshima S., 2014, Fruit selection of a binturong (Arctictis binturong) by focal animal sampling in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, Mammalia,

8 Pocock R.I.,1933,  The rarer Genera of Oriental Viverridæ, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 103, 1016–1031

9 Semiadi G. et al, 2016, Predicted distribution of the binturong Arctictis binturong (Mammalia: Carnivora: Viverridae) on Borneo, The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 33, 96-102

10 Shanahan, M., 2000. Ficus Seed Dispersal Guilds: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Implications. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leeds, UK. 210 pp.Shanahan, M., S. So, S. G. Compton & R. Corlett, 2001. Fig-eating by vertebrate frugivores: A global review. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 76: 529–572.

11 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. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41690A45217088. Downloaded on 25 November 2019.

12 Zaw T., Htun S., Po S.H.T, Maung M., Lynam A.J, Latt K.T, Duckworth J.W, 2008, Status and distribution of small carnivores in Myanmar, Small Carnivore Conservation, 38, 2-28


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