> Subphylum Vertebrata > Class Mammalia
Common palm civet
seen? This cute little 'bandit' of a beast is sometimes
seen at dusk or at night. But it is quiet and shy and easily spooked.
It is not a cat!
Jawa, Oct 07
to Baker, in Singapore, it is widespread and common even in urban
areas where it lives in the roof spaces of buildings and forages in
gardens. They travel between houses via telephone wires, poles and
trees. It is also found in forest, scrubland, parks and mangroves.
It is more active at night and tends to stay in the trees and high
Head and body to 59cm, tail to 53cm. Long sleek body with short
limbs and a long tail. It has a long muzzle and small ears. Body dark
greyish brown with three fine, broken black stripes along the back
and black spots on the sides. It has a black 'mask' across a pale
face and black ears and paws. The tail is black with a white tip.
What does it eat? It is omnivorous
and is said to have a particular fondness for fruits. But it also
eats insects and small animals that it can catch.
Baby civets: Civet cats are not
social and usually live alone. Except for a mother and her young.
Mama civet gives birth to 2-5 kittens, usually in a tree hollow, crevice
or other hiding place. Babies are born with their eyes closed. They
are mature at 11-12 months. Civet cats can live for 22-24 years.
Role in the habitat: As a fruit
eater, it helps to disperse seeds and contributes to the regeneration
Civet stories: Its scientific
name hermaphroditus came about because both males and females
have scent glands underneath the tail that resemble testicles. A noxious
secretion is sprayed from these glands. The
durian is sometimes called the civet cat fruit because it too
is also called the Toddycat for its apparent fondness for stealiing
the sap collected from palm trees, the same sap used to make the alcoholic
drink called 'toddy'. The Toddycat and Palm leaf is part of the logo
of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) at the National
University of Singapore. Here's more
about the logo. The Malay name for it is 'musang'.
Civet-processed coffee: 'Kopi
Luwak' is a type of expensive gourmet coffee, possibly the most expensive.
It is made from coffee beans that have been 'processed' by a civet
cat. Yes, the civet cat eats the coffee
beans, which passes out and are collected to be made into coffee
for humans to drink! It is said that the special taste of this rare
coffee comes from the fermentation of the beans in the civet cat's
tummy. Another theory is that the civet cat only selects and eats
the best coffee beans at the right stage of ripeness.
Chek Jawa, Oct 07
Pulau Ubin, May 09
cats and SARS: Although widely reported to harbour and
transmit SARS, there is no conclusive scientific evidence for this.
The animals implicated in the SARS outbreak were masked palm civets
(Paguma larvata) and not our Common palm civet. And there is
no evidence of a direct link between these civet cats and the SARS
outbreak in China. Besides the civet cat, two other kinds of animals
were implicated as possible SARS reservoirs: the Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes
procyonoides) and the Chinese ferret badger (Melogale moschata).
The SARS outbreak, however, does point to the dangers of viruses jumping
from wild species due to human consumption of wildlife and closer
interaction with wildlife as we encroach on and destroy wild habitats.
A young hand-raised
civet cat called TG.