Civets in Singapore?

Updated: May 26, 2020

We always associate kopi luwak to the civet cats in Indonesia but do you know these raccoon looking creatures are actually living among us in Singapore?

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Captive Masked Civet in a Balinese coffee plantation

Civet cats as we always call them aren’t actually cats but is actually in the same family as Binturongs - the Viverrid family - closely related to weasels and mongoose. Civets have been rather popular in providing musky yet pleasant scents to the perfume industry when they secrete scents to mark territories. Whilst we seldom encounter these elusive civets in Singapore, they are actually quietly living around us. Enterprising ones who have adapted to urban life live in gaps between the roof and ceilings of houses or in gardens while many more live in our forested areas and even on islands such as Pulau Ubin.

Civet on the forest floor

Civets native to Singapore is the Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus musangus) with a long snout (think raccoon-like), is cat-sized and are usually a darkish grey in colour. They are nocturnal, with activity beginning during evening, are omnivorous and usually live a solitary life. To avoid their predators, common palm civets live in the trees’ thick foliage and rarely venture to the ground. However in an urbanised landscape like Singapore, these civets often have no other option but to go to the ground if they want to move from one area to another.


Young Civet!

Such characteristics meant that these civets with sharp and sensitised senses are rarely seen. When they are seen, it’s often under tragic circumstance such as being a roadkill. With many variants of civets, especially those in Africa and China losing their habitats and many captured for economic purposes, we must try to keep a lookout for these little animals especially when we are driving!

Extra caution is required to avoid scenarios like this

The Untamed Paths

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