Mammals

Thailand's Civets

Civets can be a strange looking mammal when first encountered. Hard to clearly define by their physical appearance alone. Almost resembling a cross between a cat and dog, dependent on what angle you are viewing them from.

They are more closely related to  cats than dogs, being of a common sub-order Feliformia (Feloidea) with cats. Within that sub-order they belong to the family of Viverridae. Their closest relatives are badgers, mongooses and weasels.

Thailand currently has 11 recognized species of civets, (incl. civets, palm civets, linsangs, and binturong) belonging to the Viverridae sub-families of Hemigalinae, Paradoxurinae, Prionodontinae, and Viverrinae. 

Viverrids have long, slender bodies and short legs. Some have a uniform coloration, while others are marked with spots, bars, or both. The tail is sometimes longer than the body and is bushy and may be ringed with alternating dark and light colors. The snout is pointed (giving the resemblance of a dog), and the ears are erect.

Viverrids are the only carnivores known with perineal glands that produce a strong-smelling substance used for defense, territory marking, and communication. The secretions of this gland have been exploited by the perfume industry for many years. I won’t go into the exploitation of civets in the “specialized coffee” industry as it defies all common sense to me.

 

They are generally solitary and have excellent hearing and night vision. They are omnivorous, or, in the case of the palm civet almost entirely herbivorous.

They are mostly quite common and all can be found generally distributed throughout Thailand with the exceptions of the large spotted civet, the otter civet and perhaps the banded linsang. Whilst mainly nocturnal you can witness them in the day as well and I have personally seen 3 species openly active in the day. Its quite common for some species to appear at trash locations in the National Parks.

The following photographs are taken in the forest interior using camera traps to capture the Viverrids in their natural habitat.

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Large Indian Civet (Viverra zibetha)

Large Indian civets (Viverra zibetha) are a large civet with a generally grizzled greyish brown, with white and black bars along the neck, a white muzzle, and usually two white stripes and three black stripes on the tail. The hair on the back is longer, especially in males. They are probably the most recognizable civet in Thailand because of the beauty of their coat, which has a very variable pattern.

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Masked Palm Civet (Paguma larvata)

The Masked Palm Civet (Paguma larvata). Unlike most civets its orange-brown to gray fur completely lacks spots, stripes, and other patterns besides a mask. The mask is variable as are tail tips which are not always present.

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Common or Asian Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus

The Common or Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), also called a "toddy cat", is a smaller member of the Viverridae family. They are mainly herbivorous utilizing fruits such as berries and pulpy fruits as a major food source, and thus help to maintain tropical forest ecosystems via seed dispersal.

  

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