Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, Asian Palm Civet

Written by on July 27, 2014 in Siberut National Park with 0 Comments

Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, Asian Palm Civet TheParadoxurus hermaphroditus, Asian Palm Civet Asian Palm Civet, is a cat-sized mammal in the family Viverridae native to South-east Asia and southern China.

The Asian Palm Civet averages 3.2 kg (7 lb), has a body length of 53 cm (21 in) and a tail length of 48 cm (19 in). Its long, stocky body is covered with coarse, shaggy hair that is usually greyish in color, with black on its feet, ears and muzzle. It has three rows of black markings on its body. The markings on its face resemble a raccoon’s. Its tail does not have rings, unlike similar civet species.

Feeding and diet

The Asian Palm Civet is a nocturnal omnivore. Ecologically, they are frequently compared to as filling a similar niche in Asia that the Common Raccoon fills in North America. Its primary food source is fruit such as chiku, mango, rambutan and coffee. It will also eat small mammals and insects. It also has a fondness for palm flower sap which, when fermented, becomes toddy, a sweet liquor (habit which earns one of its alternate names the ‘toddy cat’). It inhabits forests, parks and suburban gardens with mature fruit trees, fig trees and undisturbed vegetation. Its sharp claws allow it to climb trees and house gutters.

In most parts of Sri Lanka, civets are considered a nuisance since they litter in ceilings and attics of common households, and make loud noises fighting and moving about at night, disturbing the sleep of the householders.

Dispersion

It is found in southern India, Sri Lanka, South-east Asia and southern China.

Interactions with Humans

Oil extract

The oil extracted from small pieces of the meat kept in linseed oil in a closed earthen pot and regularly sunned is used indigenously as a cure for scabies.

Coffee

Kopi Luwak is coffee that is prepared using coffee cherries that have been eaten by the animal, partially digested, and harvested from its feces.

Motit Coffee is coffee prepared from coffee beans harvested from the faeces of the Motit (Philippine Civet). Prices for this delicacy in 2009 ranged from USD$300 in the Philippines, to USD$1400 in the US, per pound weight clean.

SARS

The SARS virus was thought to have entered the human population from masked palm civets captured in the wild and improperly prepared for human consumption. However, a paper by Daniel Janies, et al. (February 2008) of the journal “Cladistics”, uses evidence from the sequences of many SARS genomes to show that the civets’ cases of SARS were just one part of the family tree of SARS viruses in humans – probably humans got SARS from bats, then humans gave it to pigs once and to small civets once, and then these small carnivores may have given the disease back to humans once or twice. All the cases of SARS associated with the outbreak appeared to be part of the bat branch of the coronavirus phylogeny.[5

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