Monday, February 27, 2012

The Animal That Smells Like a Movie Theater....

I've mostly written about animals that are fairly common and well known, but I think it is time to branch out into some more exotic and unknown animals.  So today kicks off a month of unusual animals posts.  First off is an animal that I first saw at the San Diego Zoo.  My dad was an analytical chemist for CREST, the science portion of the zoo.  It was his job to pick me up from school every Monday when my mom was too busy.  This gave me the luxury of going back to work with him at the zoo every Monday.  As you can imagine I got lots of behind the scenes tours and saw far more of the zoo than the average person.  One of my favorite animals that wasn't a main attraction was the Binturong. 

When you hear the name Binturong, the thought springs to mind is likely what the heck kind of animal is that?  It is a medium sized brown critter that looks like a fox, raccoon, cat, and maybe a little dog all mixed together  It is actually part of the Viverridae family which includes civets and genets, which resemble cats crossed with weasels.  The most striking feature of this animal has nothing to do with it's looks but actually it's smell.  A Binturong smells like fresh buttered popcorn!  Binturongs use their scent markings to signal when they are ready to mate.  Since they live solitarily, scent markings are needed to bring animals together for those romantic times of year.

Binturongs are one of the few animals that can use delayed implantation or embryonic diapause.  This is when a female can mate and delay the embryo from implanting until conditions are better.  They cannot delay implantation for long term, but a few weeks can mean the difference between starving and surviving to a Binturong.

Binturongs live in the trees and have hands evolved to live in a tree lifestyle.  Their paws have claws that are perfect grapsers on tree limbs.
Hope you enjoyed being introduced to a fun creature, next weeks post will be about another unusual animal.

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