Neither Bear Nor Cat
Bear cats are neither bear nor cat. They belong to the Family Viverridae or the family of civets and genets. These mammals can grow to as much as 1.4 meters. The Palawan bear cat (Arctictis binturong) is the only species of bearcat in the Philippines.
Bear Cat as Pet
A friend of mine took care of a newly born bear cat. Fed with milk preparations, it grew big In just about three years. It could weigh something like 40 lbs! Handling became much more difficult as it became heavy. Although it usually feeds on fruits and is docile, this arboreal animal has very sharp teeth that can rip through flesh just like a bear. It has also sharp claws. These features are useful as it also feeds on rodents and birds.
At one time, I saw it was released on a nearby tree. It easily scaled the tree as its sharp claws dug on the bark. We would evade it from crawling on us though for fear of being slashed.
A Grasping Tail
A remarkable ability of this animal is to cling around branches and suspend itself among the branches. It has a prehensile tail, meaning adapted for grasping or wrapping around on object. It is usually active at night or nocturnal as indicated by eyes like that of a cat.
It is very difficult to spot the bear cats in their natural habitat and could be aggressive when threatened by hunters. So many Palawan natives just install traps to catch them for food or just to prevent it from preying on their poultry. Because of this activity, the remaining population especially in the northern islands of Palawan is severely depleted.