Asian palm civet

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Asian palm civet
Asian Palm Civet Over A Tree.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Viverridae
Genus: Paradoxurus
P. hermaphroditus [2]
Binomial name
Paradoxurus hermaphroditus [2]
(Pallas, 1777)
Asian Palm Civet area.png
Asian palm civet range: native in green, introduced in red

The Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) is a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. Since 2008, it is IUCN Red Listed as Least Concern as it accommodates to a broad range of habitats. It is widely distributed with large populations that in 2008 were thought unlikely to be declining. [1] In Indonesia, it is threatened by poaching and illegal wildlife trade; buyers use it for the increasing production of kopi luwak, [3] a form of coffee that involves ingestion and excretion of the beans by the animal.


Asian palm civets are claimed to be the carrier that transmitted SARS from horseshoe bats to humans. [4]


Illustration of skull and dentition, by Gervais in Histoire naturelle des mammiferes Paradoxureskull.png
Illustration of skull and dentition, by Gervais in Histoire naturelle des mammifères
Close up of an Asian palm civet Himalay Palm Civet.jpg
Close up of an Asian palm civet

The Asian palm civet's long, stocky body is covered with coarse, shaggy hair that is usually greyish in colour. It has a white mask across the forehead, a small white patch under each eye, a white spot on each side of the nostrils, and a narrow dark line between the eyes. The muzzle, ears, lower legs, and distal half of the tail are black, with three rows of black markings on the body. Its head-to-body length is about 53 cm (21 in) with a 48 cm (19 in) long unringed tail. It weighs 2 to 5 kg (4.4 to 11.0 lb). Its anal scent glands emit a nauseating secretion as a chemical defense when threatened or upset. [5]

Distribution and habitat

The Asian palm civet is native to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore, Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei Darussalam, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, the Philippines, and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Bawean, and Siberut. It was introduced to Irian Jaya, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Maluku, and Sulawesi. Its presence in Papua New Guinea is uncertain. [1]

It usually inhabits primary forests, but also occurs at lower densities in secondary and selectively logged forest. [6]

It is also present in parks and suburban gardens with mature fruit trees, fig trees, and undisturbed vegetation. Its sharp claws allow climbing of trees and house gutters. In most parts of Sri Lanka, palm civets are considered a nuisance since they litter in ceilings and attics of common households, and make loud noises fighting and moving about at night.[ citation needed ]


Palawan and Borneo specimens are genetically close, so the Asian palm civet on Palawan island might have dispersed from Borneo during the Pleistocene. It is possible that people later introduced Asian palm civet into other Philippines islands. [7] [8]

Behaviour and ecology

Asian palm civet in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) (7781509830).jpg
Asian palm civet in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
Asian palm civet with pups in an urban area at Baranagar, Kolkata, India Asian Palm Civet with pups Baranagar Kolkata West Bengal India.jpg
Asian palm civet with pups in an urban area at Baranagar, Kolkata, India

The Asian palm civet is thought to lead a solitary lifestyle, except for brief periods during mating. It is both terrestrial and arboreal, showing a nocturnal activity pattern with peaks between late evening until after midnight. [6] It is usually active between dawn and 4:00 in the morning, but less active during nights when the moon is brightest. [9]

Scent marking behaviour and olfactory response to various excretions such as urine, feces, and secretion of the perineal gland differs in males and females. Scent marking by dragging the perineal gland and leaving the secretion on the substrate was most commonly observed in animals of both sexes. The duration of the olfactory response varied and depended both on the sex and excretion type. The palm civet can distinguish animal species, sex, familiar and unfamiliar individuals by the odor of the perineal gland secretion. [10]

Feeding and diet

The Asian palm civet is an omnivore feeding foremost on fruits such as berries and pulpy fruits. It thus helps to maintain tropical forest ecosystems via seed dispersal. [6] It eats chiku, mango, rambutan, and coffee, but also small mammals and insects. It plays an important role in the natural regeneration of Pinanga kuhlii and P. zavana palms at Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park. [11] It also feeds on palm flower sap, which when fermented becomes palm wine, a sweet liquor ("toddy"). Because of this habit, it is called the toddy cat.[ citation needed ]


Juvenile Asian palm civet Paradox hermaph 060924 ltn.jpg
Juvenile Asian palm civet

Due to its solitary and nocturnal habits, little is known about its reproductive processes and behaviour. [12] In March 2010, a pair of palm civets was observed when attempting to mate. The pair copulated on the tree branch for about five minutes. During that period, the male mounted the female 4–5 times. After each mounting, the pair separated for a few moments and repeated the same procedure. After completion of mating, the pair frolicked around for some time, moving from branch to branch on the tree. The animals separated after about six minutes and moved off to different branches and rested there. [13]



In some parts of its range Asian palm civets are hunted for bushmeat and the pet trade. [14] In southern China it is extensively hunted and trapped. Dead individuals were found with local tribes where it is killed for its meat, in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, and Agra, Uttar Pradesh, between 1998 and 2003 in India. [1]

The oil extracted from small pieces of the meat kept in linseed oil in a closed earthen pot and regularly sunned, is used indigenously as a cure for scabies. [15]

Kopi luwak coffee

Asian palm civet housed in a cage for the production of kopi luwak coffee Luwak (civet cat) in cage.jpg
Asian palm civet housed in a cage for the production of kopi luwak coffee

Kopi luwak is coffee prepared using coffee beans that have been subjected to ingestion and fermentation in the gastrointestinal tract of the Asian palm civet, which is called luwak in Indonesia. Caffeine content in both Arabica and Robusta luwak coffee is lower than in unfermented coffee. [16] Large deformation mechanical rheology testing revealed that civet coffee beans are harder and more brittle in nature than their control counterparts indicating that digestive juices enter into the beans and modify the micro-structural properties of these beans. Proteolytic enzymes cause substantial breakdown of storage proteins. [17]

Kopi luwak is traditionally made from the faeces of wild civets, however, due to it becoming a trendy drink, civets are being increasingly captured from the wild and fed coffee beans to mass-produce this blend. Many of these civets are housed in battery cage systems which have been criticised on animal welfare grounds. [18] [19] The impact of the demand for this fashionable coffee on wild palm civet populations is yet unknown but may constitute a significant threat. In Indonesia, the demand for Asian palm civets appears to be in violation of the quota set for pets. [3]


Paradoxurus hermaphroditus is listed on CITES Appendix III. [1] There is a quota in place in Indonesia, precluding trade from certain areas, setting a cap on the number of civets that can be taken from the wild, and allowing only 10% of those removed from the wild to be sold domestically. This quota is largely ignored by hunters and traders and is not enforced by authorities. [20] This species has become popular as a pet in Indonesia in recent years, causing a rise in the numbers found in markets in Java and Bali. The majority of the animals sold as pets originate from the wild. The high numbers of animals seen, lack of adherence to the quota and lack of enforcement of the laws are causes for conservation concern. [14]


Illustrations of Asian palm civets in Pocock's The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. - Volume 1 Asianpalmcivetheads.png
Illustrations of Asian palm civets in Pocock's The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1
Philippine palm civet ParadoxurusHermaphroditusPhilippinensis01.jpg
Philippine palm civet

Viverra hermaphrodita was the scientific name proposed by Peter Simon Pallas in 1777. [22] It is the nominate subspecies and ranges in Sri Lanka and southern India as far north as the Narbada River. [21] Several zoological specimens were described between 1820 and 1992: [2]

The taxonomic status of these subspecies has not yet been evaluated. [1]

Local names

An Asian palm civet captured in a compound in Kerala AngryMarapatti.JPG
An Asian palm civet captured in a compound in Kerala

In mythology

In Philippine mythology, the upland Bagobo people believe in a being named Lakivot was said to be a huge and powerful palm civet who can talk. Lakivot defeated various monsters, including the one-eyed monster Ogassi and the busaw beings who guarded the Tree of Gold, which had the Flower of Gold that he sought. He was eventually transformed into a handsome young man, and married the person to whom he gave the Flower of Gold. [29]

Related Research Articles

Viverridae family of mammals

Viverridae is a family of small to medium-sized mammals, the viverrids, comprising 15 genera, which are subdivided into 38 species. This family was named and first described by John Edward Gray in 1821. Viverrids occur all over Africa, southern Europe, and South and Southeast Asia, across the Wallace Line. Their occurrence in Sulawesi and in some of the adjoining islands shows them to be ancient inhabitants of the Old World tropics.

Kopi luwak Indonesian coffee drink

Kopi luwak is a coffee that consists of partially digested coffee cherries, which have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. It is therefore also called civet coffee. The cherries are fermented as they pass through a civet's intestines, and after being defecated with other fecal matter, they are collected. Asian palm civets are increasingly caught in the wild and traded for this purpose.

African civet largest representative of the African Viverridae

The African civet is a large viverrid native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is considered common and widely distributed in woodlands and secondary forests. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2008. In some countries, it is threatened by hunting, and wild-caught individuals are kept for producing civetone for the perfume industry.

<i>Paradoxurus</i> genus of mammals

Paradoxurus is a genus of three palm civets within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. The Paradoxurus species have a broad head, a narrow muzzle with a large rhinarium that is deeply sulcate in the middle. Their large ears are rounded at the tip. The tail is nearly as long as the head and body.

Sulawesi palm civet species of mammal

The Sulawesi palm civet, also known as Sulawesi civet, musang and brown palm civet is a little-known palm civet endemic to Sulawesi. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List due to population decline estimated to have been more than 30% over the last three generations inferred from habitat destruction and degradation.

Small Indian civet Species of mammal

The small Indian civet is a civet native to South and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List because of its widespread distribution, widespread habitat use and healthy populations living in agricultural and secondary landscapes of many range states.

Golden palm civet species of mammal

The golden palm civet is a palm civet endemic to Sri Lanka. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Its distribution is severely fragmented, and the extent and quality of its habitat in Sri Lanka's hill regions are declining.

Brown palm civet species of mammal

The brown palm civet also called the Jerdon's palm civet is a palm civet endemic to the Western Ghats of India.

Malayan civet species of mammal

The Malayan civet, also known as the Malay civet and Oriental civet, is a viverrid native to the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra, Bangka, Borneo, the Riau Archipelago, and the Philippines. It is listed as "Least Concern" by IUCN as it is a relatively widely distributed, appears to be tolerant of degraded habitats, and occurs in a number of protected areas.

Civet Mammals of the families Viverridae and Nandiniidae

A civet is a small, lean, mostly nocturnal mammal native to tropical Asia and Africa, especially the tropical forests. The term civet applies to over a dozen different mammal species. Most of the species diversity is found in southeast Asia. The best-known civet species is the African civet, Civettictis civetta, which historically has been the main species from which a musky scent used in perfumery was obtained. The word civet may also refer to the distinctive musky scent produced by the animals.

The Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms are an historical cafe located at the top of the Hervey Range, approximately 32 kilometres (20 mi) north-west of Townsville in North Queensland, Australia. The tea rooms are famous for being the only cafe in Queensland to include kopi luwak coffee on their menu, hailed as the most expensive coffee in the world.

Paradoxurinae subfamily of mammals, the viverrids

The Paradoxurinae are a subfamily of the viverrids that was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864. Pocock subordinated the oriental genera Paradoxurus, Paguma and Arctictis to this subfamily.

Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park

Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park is a national park in Myanmar covering 1,402.8 km2 (541.6 sq mi). It was established in 1989 and is listed as one of the ASEAN Heritage Parks. It spans an elevation of 135–1,335 m (443–4,380 ft) in the Kani and Mingin Townships in Sagaing Region.

Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in northern Myanmar, covering 17,373.57 km2 (6,707.97 sq mi). It was established in 2004 and extended to its present size in 2010. It was initially gazetted in 2004 with an area of 6,371 km2 (2,460 sq mi) in Tanaing Township and extended to Kamaing, Nayun and Kamti Townships. In elevation, it ranges from 125 to 3,435 m in the Hukawng Valley located in Kachin State and Sagaing Region. It harbours evergreen and mixed deciduous forests.

Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary

Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary is a 2,150.73 km2 (830.40 sq mi) large protected area in northern Myanmar. It was established in 1974 in the Sagaing Region.

Trung Nguyên Vietnamese coffee production and distribution company

Trung Nguyên is a Vietnamese business group involved in the production, processing and distribution of coffee. Trung Nguyên is the largest and domestic coffee brand within Vietnam, and exports its products to more than 60 countries, including major markets such as G7 countries, United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, China, Canada, Russia, Japan, Dubai and ASEAN including Singapore.

Tanintharyi Nature Reserve

Tanintharyi Nature Reserve is a strict nature reserve in Myanmar's Tenasserim Hills, covering 1,699.99 km2 (656.37 sq mi). In elevation, it ranges from at an elevation of 20–130 m (66–427 ft). Most of the tropical rain forest is evergreen, interspersed with some grassland. The reserve provides habitat to Asian elephant and Gurney's pitta. It was gazetted in 2005 for the maintenance of natural resources, scientific research and education of local people in surrounding communities.

Bumhpa Bum Wildlife Sanctuary

Bumhpa Bum Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in Myanmar, covering an area of 1,854.43 km2 (716.00 sq mi). It was established in 2004. It ranges in elevation from 140 to 3,435 m and harbours evergreen forest in Kachin State.


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