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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Malay Civet

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3




Family : Viverridae
Species : Viverra tangalunga

Head-body length : 61-67 cm
Tail length : 28-35 cm
Weight : up to 5 kg

The Malay Civet, or Oriental Civet, inhabits lowland and lower montane, primary and secondary forest to around 1200 metres elevation. It adapts well to disturbed habitats. It is fully nocturnal and mainly, but not exclusively, a ground dweller.

It is omnivorous, and feeds on a variety of invertebrates, such as insects or worms, small vertebrates such as lizards, and forest fruits. In rural areas adjacent to good forest, this civet may explore the margins of villages in search of food scraps. It will also eat carrion.

It is best identified by the numerous, incomplete pale bands on the tail and the small, dark spots on the flanks. A dark line extends along the back and onto the entire length of the tail. There are thick, well-defined black and white markings on the neck.

Its body is stocky, its legs are relatively short and its head is pointed and fox-like.

The Malay Civet occurs in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Riau Archipelago, Borneo, Sulawesi and other island groups of Indonesia including the Moluccas.  It also occurs on many islands of the Philippines.

In 2012 a single individual was photographed in Singapore by an infrared trail camera, but has not been recorded since and the species is thus considered to be very rare in that country (Lim et al, 2012).

Fig 1 : Example from Lambir Hills, Sarawak, Borneo.  The robust body and broad muzzle suggest this is an adult.

Fig 2 : This example is relatively small and is likely to be a juvenile.

Fig 3 : Typical specimen from lowland, primary forest.

References : M5

Lim, N. T-L. & X. Ou Yang, 2012. Occurrence of the malay civet, Viverra tangalunga (Mammalia: Carnivora: Viverridae) in Singapore. Nature in Singapore, 5: 7981.