Secret Life of Civet
More than a dozen species are reported as native to Asia and Africa’s tropical woodlands. Because they are predominantly nocturnal, they must be seen at night. We provide a few Wildlife Travel Itineraries in Kinabatangan River Cruise, Deramakot, Danum Valley, Tabin Wildlife Reserve and South Luangwa for photographing civets, some of which are fairly rare.
Civets of Borneo
Borneo is home to several species of civet cats, which are small to medium-sized carnivorous mammals belonging to the family Viverridae. Some notable civet cat species found in Borneo:
Banded Palm Civet (Hemigalus derbyanus):
The Banded Palm Civet, also known as the Banded Civet, is a small civet cat species found in Borneo, as well as other parts of Southeast Asia. It has a slender body with a long tail and a pointed snout. Its fur is grayish-brown with distinct black bands running across its back, giving it its name. This species is primarily arboreal, spending much of its time in trees.
This elusive and rare civet prefers riverine and lowland swamp woodland, but has also been seen in lowland dipterocarp forest. It has been discovered as high as 1370 metres in Borneo. It lives entirely at night, is arboreal, and is semi-aquatic. It is known to prey on aquatic creatures, but nothing more about its ecology is known.
Hose’s Palm Civet (Diplogale hosei):
Hose’s Palm Civet is an endemic civet cat species found only on the island of Borneo. It has a slender body, long tail, and a pointed snout. Its fur is reddish-brown with white patches on the throat and chest. This species primarily inhabits lowland rainforests and is known to feed on fruits, insects, and small vertebrates.
Malay Civet (Viverra tangalunga):
The Malay Civet is not exclusive to Borneo and is found in other parts of Southeast Asia. It is a medium-sized civet cat with a stocky body, short legs, and a long tail. Its fur is grayish-brown with dark spots and bands. The Malay Civet is primarily terrestrial but is also known to climb trees. It is a nocturnal species that feeds on a varied diet, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, and fruits. This is the one species that we often encounter walking on the safari road during night game drives often. This is thought to be not so shy compared to the other civets when we see them on ground.
Civets of Africa
The African civet (Civettictis civetta) is a nocturnal mammal native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest civet species and has a distinctive appearance. It has a long, slender body with short legs and a relatively long tail. It has a pointed face with a black mask-like pattern around the eyes. The fur is coarse and varies in color from grayish to brownish, with black spots and stripes covering the body.
Importance of Civets
Civet cats play important roles in the ecosystems they inhabit. They contribute to seed dispersal as they consume fruits and help control populations of rodents and insects. However, some civet species, such as the Asian Palm Civet (not exclusive to Borneo), are known for their involvement in the controversial production of civet coffee. African civets have been kept in captivity for the production of civetone, a substance obtained from their scent glands that is used in the perfume industry.
It’s important to note that ethical and sustainable practices should be followed in any civet-related activities to ensure the well-being of these animals.