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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Common (Sumatran) Palm Civet

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5

Fig 6


Family : Viverridae
Species : Paradoxurus musangus

Head-body length : 42-50 cm
Tail length : 33-42cm

Known to millions of rural Malays as 'Musang', the Common (or Sumatran) Palm Civet occurs in secondary forests, fruit orchards, near village houses or in the tops of trees close to human habitation, indeed it sometimes inhabits the roof spaces of rural properties. They usually nest, however, in hollow trees where they raise two or three young. The species is fully nocturnal.

They are identified by the three dark stripes along the back, on a creamy or grey background, and by the dark mask across the eyes and nose. They feed mainly on fruits - being particularly attracted to mangoes, but will also eat worms and insects. In Singapore they frequently eat the fruits of the Fishtail Palm Caryota mitis.

The species occurs in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and Java.

Closely related species occur in India, southern China and Indochina (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and in Borneo and the Philippines (Paradoxurus philippinensis) (Veron et al, 2014).

Fig 1 : Male relaxing on a thick liana in lowland forest.

Fig 2 : Juvenile pair in secondary coastal forest.

Fig 3 : Dark adult with orange-tipped tail, an uncommon feature, feeding on the flowers of Piper aduncum, a non-native invasive species of shrub.

Fig 4 :
Young male, in a mango tree in the Portsdown area of Singapore.

Fig 5 : Typical droppings of the Common (Sumatran) Palm Civet, comprising seed husks of Fishtail Palm Caryota mitis.

Fig 6 : Pale specimen from an oil palm plantation.

References : M1, M2

Veron, G., M.-L. Patou, M. Tth, M. Goonatilake & A. P. Jennings, 2014. How many species of Paradoxurus civets are there? New insights from India and Sri Lanka. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. p. 1-14. doi: 10.1111/jzs.12085.