Previously regarded as a subspecies of the better-known Sulawesi bear cuscus, the Talaud bear cuscus has only recently been classified as a separate species.
It is a powerfully built animal with thick, woolly ash-grey hair, protruding olive-green eyes, bright yellow nose inconspicuous ears and a scaly prehensile tail. The species is thought to be extremely rare. It is known with certainty from a single location: Salibabu Island (within the Talaud Island Group) north of Sulawesi. It probably also occurs on the larger Sangihe Island, although its presence there is yet to be confirmed. There is heavy hunting pressure on both islands which, given the species’ small population size, is likely to present the greatest threat. Loss and degradation of the forest habitat, upon which the cuscus depends, is also having a negative impact. Generally, cuscuses are arboreal, occasionally descending to the ground. They are nocturnal, resting during the day in tree hollows. They are slow moving, and when alarmed emit a penetrating musk odour. These marsupials are one of two species in their genus Ailurops.
- Order: Diprotodontia
- Family: Phalangeridae
- Population: Unknown
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 60cm
- Weight: 10kg
Endemic to Indonesia, the species occurs on the Talaud-Sangihe archipelago to the north of Sulawesi. It is known with certainty from a single location: Salibabu Island (within the Talaud Island Group), which is less than 100km².
Habitat and Ecology
Primary forest and gardens near the Sahendaruman caldera on Sangihe, and in degraded forest and adjacent gardens on Salibabu. Their diet likely consists of leaves, seeds and fruit – and their generalised dentition permits occasional consumption of small vertebrates and bird eggs.