Snack-Scented Civet

With a cat-like face, a body like a bear and an almost monkey-like tail, it’s easy to see why this animal is sometimes called a bearcat. This unique old world mammal is neither bear nor cat but is known as the binturong (BIN-too-wrong). The largest species of civet (a group of cat-like mammals closely related to the mongoose), the binturong possesses a prehensile tail which it uses to grasp branches and provides extra balance when moving among the dense forests of Southeast Asia.

A distinct characteristic of the binturong is the strange but familiar odor of buttered popcorn that it gives off as part of it’s scent marking. All civets communicate with scents and the binturong will sometimes stop and rub its hindquarters against a branch letting other binturongs know it’s been there. Some people feel the scent may also resemble the smell of corn chips.

Though they’re classified as carnivores, binturongs eat mainly fruits and leaves as well as small animals such as rodents (providing a type of pest control for their region). Binturongs also help disperse plant seeds that are deposited through their fecal matter (poop) as they travel among their habitat.

An animal with many fascinating qualities, the meaning of the name binturong is unknown since the original native tongue it comes from is an extinct language no longer spoken.

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