Can You Own A Pet Binturong?

Do binturongs make good pets? No, they don’t and I bet it’s even impossible to get one. The animal which is also known as bearcat is endangered and protected by most countries in the world. Additionally, only very little is known about the species which makes it difficult to take proper care of.

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Binturong with food at a rescue shelter

I know binturongs are cute animals but they are wild and should stay in their natural habitat. They aren’t meant to be pets. But before we go into the details of what it would be like to keep a bearcat as a pet, you might ask what a binturong actually is.

What Is A Binturong?

With their black fur, tail, and whiskers, binturongs look like a hybrid of bears and cats. That’s where their name bearcat comes from. Actually, they have nothing to do with pet bears, nor with our beloved house cats. 

Like the fossa, the fierce animal is a member of the Viverridae family and has more in common with civets and mongooses.

The head to body measure can reach up to 38 inches and the tail can be as long as well. The weight lies somewhere between 20 to 31 pounds, whereas the females are larger and heavier than the males.

Their natural habitats are the rainforests of South East Asia, mainly Myanmar, Lagos, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, and some Philippine islands.

Is It Legal To Own A Pet Binturong?

Binturong on a tree

In most states of the US as well as in Canada and many western countries it’s illegal to keep bearcats as pets.

States like California have the strictest laws and ban these animals completely. However, there are also states where the ownership of exotic pets isn’t regulated at all and others might ask for a permit.

The thing with binturongs is, that they are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. This leads to the fact that trading and importing them is prohibited.

So even, if it’s probably legal in your state to own, you would face legal issues. On the other side, you would face ethical concerns and a lot of other problems with a pet binturong.

Do Bearcats Make Good Pets?

I have answered this question already, but in this section, I want to go into the details of why it’s a really bad idea to get a pet bearcat.

Binturongs Aren’t Domesticated

Bearcats aren’t domestic pets and that’s where the difficulties start when you neglect the legal aspects. Many people don’t understand that wild animals really should stay in the wild.

They might look cute, can be tamed, and are friendly towards humans. But taking care of such an animal means a lot of stress.

That being said, binturongs aren’t especially aggressive or dangerous towards humans. If they are raised by humans from a young age they might even enjoy their companionship a bit. This can change a bit if they are in breeding seasons or if you care for a female with babies.

You wouldn’t have so much time playing and interacting with your pet, cleaning its habitat and buying food would be the main activities.

Problems With Housing

Binturong taking a napp

There would definitively be some problems with the housing of a pet binturong. They need a warm climate similar to the one in their natural habitats. So, if you don’t live in a warm and tropic region, you would need an indoor enclosure.

But as they are not domesticated it would be impossible to litter train these animals. Additionally, they have quite strong scent glands like minks and other animals of the family. As you might imagine, they like scent marking their territory and that would be your rooms.

An enclosure like a cage is usually not big enough for binturongs so you would need to build your own. This is an expensive and time-consuming project itself. Bearcats are heavy climbers and spend most of their lives on trees. The only time they spend on the ground is used to get from one tree to another.

It’s very difficult to impossible to meet these requirements in an indoor enclosure.

Bints Are Intelligent

Binturongs are highly intelligent, they are trainable and can even learn to walk on a leash. What looks like a feature of a great pet can be a disadvantage as well. Especially when an animal is so high maintenance.

You would spend a lot of time on care and have to entertain your pet bearcat as well. Enrichment is very important for species like this, as they can get frustrated when they are bored. Boredom often leads to destructive behavior and illnesses.

Watch the video below to see how a man bonds with a bearcat.

Binturongs Are Nocturnal

Bearcats are awake when you sleep. That means you would put all that time into proper care, but the time you can spend interacting with your pet is very limited.

Apart from that binturongs can be quite noisy when they are active at night. If you need a calm place to sleep any nocturnal pet isn’t for you.

Common Health Problems In Bearcats

One big problem in keeping exotic pets is always veterinary care. Vets are hard to find for these species which is especially true for binturongs. Nobody owns them as pets and so no vet has any experience.

If you find a vet who is able to treat your bearcat, you should be prepared for regular and high medical bills. Exotic pets are always expensive to treat. Additionally, this species is prone to many diseases like teeth problems, arthritis, and hair loss.

The lifespan of binturongs in captivity is far above 15 years. So this isn’t only a time investment, but a financial one too.

Binturongs Are Endangered

Binturong is shocked

The ethical components should also play a role in the decision if you decide on a pet or not. Bearcats are endangered and listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. Since the 1980s their population declined by over 30 percent.

Their main threat is habitat loss due to deforestation. Additionally, they are promoted as virile in the Chinese medicine trade. A powder is produced from the penis bones. It’s said that it helps men to stay fertile and to increase their chances of getting a male baby.

Binturongs Do Cost A Lot

I bet it’s hard to find a pet bearcat for sale within the US. But if you do, be prepared to pay a high price of $10,000 and more depending on the age and health of the animal.

As you know, the real costs of owning a pet are only about to start when you buy it. Shelter, food, and vet care are far more expensive than many people estimate in the beginning.