Binturongs are also known as bearcats.
Binturongs are also known as bearcats.
Photograph by Cameron Spencer, Staff, Getty Images News


A 40-pound mammal creeps along a tree branch in a steamy forest. The animal looks like a cross between a cat and a bear. And its appearance isn’t even its strangest quality. What’s even weirder is the creature's smell: It gives off the scent of buttered popcorn! This is the binturong, an animal that's full of surprises.

Common Name:
Scientific Name:
Arctictis binturong
Average Life Span In The Wild:
18 years
2.3 to 2.8 feet
24 to 71 pounds


Binturongs live in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. They belong to a family of carnivorous mammals that also includes civets. The animals spend most of their time hanging out in the treetops. When they aren’t lounging on branches, they’re looking for yummy snacks such as insects, birds, and fruit.

The animal uses its tail—which is almost as long as its body—like a fifth limb as it climbs through the forest. This tail is prehensile, which means it’s capable of gripping things. The binturong is one of only two carnivores that has a prehensile tail. (The other is the kinkajou.) By grasping onto branches and trunks with the furry extension, the binturong is able to move more easily along the trees.


As they travel, binturongs rub a pungent substance produced in their scent glands onto branches and foliage. The animals use the odor to mark territory as well as to attract mates. The substance smells like buttery popcorn. With all its cool qualities, you definitely can't turn your nose up at this odd-smelling animal!