Animals You've Never Heard Of - B Edition
DISCLAIMER: You may have heard of some of these animals.
Remember the African civet from the A Edition? Well, this guy is even bigger than he is! The binturong dominates the family as being the largest of the viverrids, sometimes weighing over 49 lbs. Also called the bearcat, the binturong is neither a bear, nor a cat! It's not a monkey either, it's just a viverrid (or a viverrine if you prefer).
These nocturnal mammals are one of the only two animals in the entire order of Carnivora to possess a prehensile tail. Not only that, but they release a musk from their perineal gland which actually, truly, smells like buttered popcorn or sometimes even fresh cornbread. Who ever knew a caboose could smell so good?
Throughout Asia the binturong is classified as vulnerable, its dwindling numbers the result of deforestation. They are noted as being ferocious if cornered in the wild, but can make decent pets for people who understand their requirements.
Probably the most bizarre of all swines, the babirusa takes the cake when it comes to strangest natural dental placement ever. It is unknown what reason Nature had to give these guys their oddly shaped tusks, which are actually the top set of canines that grow upward until they pierce the skin and curl backward between the eyes, but at any rate they're a sight to behold.
But why is this such a bizarre design, you may ask? Well…nobody knows! Science cannot tell us! Aside from blocking the pig's line of vision, this can also happen. The male Babirusa cannot live into his geriatric years unless his horns are trimmed by humans or broken off in combat, because they will curl right on through his skull. Mother Nature, what the heck?!
Blue Crowned Pigeon
Yes, you read that right. This is, in fact, a pigeon, ladies and gentleman. But unlike any we have here in the United States, the Blue crowned pigeon struts its stuff down in Indonesia and New Guinea where all the animals are much more interesting.
Victoria, blue, and Scheepmaker’s crowned pigeons are modest, friendly birds just like any other pigeon you might come across in town. They are very trusting of people, which often results in disaster for them because natives enjoy the taste of their little pigeon meats and have a tendency to over-hunt them for food and feathers. Deforestation doesn't help either.
Largely considered the most beautiful of all pigeons, crowned pigeons also have the honor of being the largest in all of the pigeon family (Columbidae), and were second only to the unfortunate dodo bird.
Their steady decline has led some people to fear that they are going the way of the dodo as well, and they are listed as vulnerable or endangered in their native homes. Captive populations of these birds are few, restricted mostly to professional zoos.
Banded Palm Civet
Are we getting tired of viverrids yet? Not at all! After all, they are a family of animals largely unheard of by the common populace, due to the simple fact that none of them live in Europe or the United States. But does this mean they are not awesome? Of course not!
The banded palm civet is one of the more distinctly marked of all viverrids, what with their heavy vertical stripes which help them blend into the rainforests of their Asian homes. They are shaped very similar to a weasel, with an elongated tail, body, and head. This of course works to their advantage as they slink about the forest floor in search of rodents, snakes, and delicious frogs.
Like all civets, these guys are solitary hunters, and prefer the taste of meat but will not turn down the occasional fruit or salad (or fruit salad). But because of their shy nature and nocturnal habits, we unfortunately do not know a whole lot about these beautiful creatures except what we have observed in captivity. Civets have the capability of living upwards of 20 years in captivity, but it is unknown the average lifespan of one in the wild.
And of course we couldn't leave out this little gem! If you are afraid of cockroaches, not only is that a really big waste of your time, it's also a real loss because there are actually some pretty neat ones out there. For example: the banana cockroach.
Unlike the ones you may find in your home, these Caribbean cuties are not considered a pest species, and prefer to live their happy little lives outdoors in the bushes and trees. With a penchant for warm, damp tropical dirt beds, it's no wonder they prefer the rainforest to a person's home (human establishments are way too arid for anybody's good).
These roaches are quite small, the females barely reaching an inch in length. They enjoy eating a rounded diet of pretty much absolutely anything and are excellent forest-dwelling ground cleaners. Due to their attractive appearance and their lack of invasive tendencies, they are becoming more and more popular as pets, but are much more flighty (literally; they fly) than the ever popular hissing cockroach.