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An animal that smells like warm, buttered popcorn?2 min read

October 18, 2020 2 min read


An animal that smells like warm, buttered popcorn?2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Meet the binturong, a curious creature that looks a bit like a raccoon, but also like a furry teddy bear with a long bushy tail. But what makes this animal truly unforgettable is the way it smells – like hot, buttered popcorn!

Source: Giphy

This mammal, also called bearcat, is found in the forests of Southeast Asia, and is related to small forest animals such as civets and fossas. Scientists who have studied them say they are shy, secretive animals.

What’s interesting is that the binturong’s popcorn-like odour is due to a chemical found in its urine. Their urine contains the chemical 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline (2-AP) – the same chemical that is released while making popcorn, in freshly baked bread and cooked rice!

The binturong’s long, bushy tail is partly the reason for its popcorn smell

The urine falls on the feet and tail of the binturong, which helps them leave a trail of scent when they move through the rainforest, helping them to mark their territories. This helps in sending signals to other animals and binturongs about their location. This chemical is stronger in male binturongs than females.

Here are some other creatures that have unique, food scents:

  • Corn chips – The paws of domestic dogs sometimes smell like corn chips due the build-up of yeast (a single-cell microorganism from the fungus family) or a bacteria called proteus or pseudomonas. These live in damp spaces, like the airless spaces between the toes of dogs!
Your dog’s paw may smell like corn chips due to bacteria build-up. Photo: Pxfuel
  • Lemon toffees – The citronella ant, found across the United States smells like lemon toffees. This is due to formic acid – a chemical that smells like citric acid, and hence, the lemon-y smell.
  • Mints – The white admiral butterfly found in the United States and Canada and Australia’s peppermint stick insect, all give out a unique minty smell.