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







Masked Palm Civet

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4





Family : Viverridae
Species : Paguma larvata

Head-body length : 51-76 cm
Tail length : 51-63 cm
Weight : up to 5 kg

The Masked Palm Civet occurs in a variety of habitats including lowland and montane forests, both primary and secondary, up to 2500 metres elevation. It is both arboreal and terrestrial, and is mainly nocturnal. It may forage in gardens on the outskirts of small towns and villages if it is living in nearby forest.

Its diet mainly comprises wild fruits, cultivated fruits and other vegetable matter. Lekagul (1977) describes how it eats figs, mangoes, bananas and leaves. This may be supplemented by a variety of small mammals (squirrels, rodents, shrews), birds, snakes, frogs and invertebrates, including snails and crabs (Zhou et al, 2008).

The fur colour of this species is extremely variable. The body fur may vary from buff to pale brown to dark brown, and sometimes reddish brown. In all cases, however, the body fur lacks the stripes or spots which occur in most other civet species.

On the face there is a broad, dark mask which extends from the muzzle to below the ear, and above this feature the fur is pale. Generally there is a pale stripe which commences from the snout, passes between the eyes and ears, and fades at the neck, though in some locations, such as Peninsular Malaysia, this feature may be muted.

The body is stocky, and the thick tail, which is  of similar colour to the body, may have a pale tip.

This species is wide ranging. Outside the region it is recorded from Nepal, northern India and central and southern China, including Taiwan. Within Southeast Asia it occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo.

In Singapore there are historical records of the species, all of which have some doubt, and there are no recent verifiable sightings, thus its current status is 'indeterminate' (Chua et al, 2012).

Fig 1 : Black specimen from montane habitat at an elevation of 1200 metres

Figs 2 and 3 : Greyish-brown specimen from degraded forest edge habitat.

Fig 4 : Dark brown, adult male specimen from an elevation of 1250 metres.

References : M3, M5

Chua, M.A.H., Lim, K.K.P. & Low, C.H.S. 2012. The diversity and status of the civets (Viverridae) of Singapore. Small Carnivore Conservation 47:110.

Y Zhou, J Zhang, E Slade, L Zhang, F Palomares, J Chen, X Wang. 2008. Dietary shifts in relation to fruit availability among masked palm civets (Paguma larvata) in central China. Journal of Mammalogy 89 (2), 435-447.