Common Palm Civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) are widely distributed across South and Southeast Asia. There are scattered records from Sulawesi, the Moluccas, Timor, and the Aru Islands and they may be present in Papua New Guinea. They were introduced to Japan in the late 1800s.
This is a small civet with a grayish or rusty body, brown or black spots and stripes, a dark mask, and a long tail. The head and body are 42 to 71 cm long with a tail of 33 to 66 cm; weight is 2 to 5 kg. The body size of individuals on islands, notably Borneo, is smaller than on the mainland. The head pattern is highly variable, but generally consists of a dark mask with pale patches below the eyes, on the forehead, and at the bases of the ears.
Common Palm Civets occur in a range of habitats up to 2400 m, including evergreen and deciduous forests (both primary and secondary), plantations, and around human dwellings and settlements. They are mainly frugivorous, but also eat small vertebrates and invertebrates. They are solitary, nocturnal, and largely arboreal, spending the day in trees--and sometimes in buildings. Common Palm Civets deposit their scat, the contents of which can have commercial value as the source of "civet coffee", on the ground and on tree branches.
Breeding seems to occur throughout the year, with a litter size of two to five young. In captivity, gestation is 61 to 63 days. Newborns weigh 69 to 102 g and are born with their eyes closed. They reach sexual maturity at 11 to 12 months.
Although this species is widespread and generally common, population density may be lower in secodary forest than in primary forest. Common Palm Civets are often considered pests by fruit farmers and killed. They are also trapped and traded for meat and are sometimes kept as pets and used as rat catchers (which may explain their introduction to some areas). The subspecies (sometimes considered a distinct species) on the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia may be under threat due to commercial logging.
(Jennings and Veron 2009 and references therein)
- Jennings, A.P. and G. Veron. 2009. Viverridae (Civets, Genets, and Oyans). Pp. 174-232 in: Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
It was also introduced to Japan in the late 1800s, and still persists there today (S. Roy in litt. 2006). It has also been recorded from the islands of Bawean (Indonesia), Con Son (Viet Nam), Koh Samui (Thailand), Koh yao (Thailand), Samar (Philippines), and Telebon (Thailand) (Meiri, 2005), in addition to many others (Pocock 1939). Paradoxurus lignicolor (included in Paradoxurus hermaphroditus by Wilson and Reeder 2005) was recorded by Abegg (2003) on Siberut of the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia.
In addition it has been found on the Philippine islands of Biliran, Maripipi (Rickart et al. 1993) Mindoro, Catanduanes (Heaney et al. 1991), Cebu, Masbate, Polillo, Ilin, Samar, Dumaran and Panay (Timm and Birney 1980; Lastimosa pers. comm.).
Paradoxurus hermaphroditus is found from Kashmir in the west to the Philippines in the east; from southern China and the Himalayas in the north to the Greater Sundas and many lesser Sunda Islands in the south.
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )
Average mass: 3100 g.
Average basal metabolic rate: 5.534 W.
Habitat and Ecology
In the Philippines the species has been recorded in agricultural (including coffee plantations) and forested areas from sea level up to at least 2,400 m asl (Balete and Heaney in press, Heaney et al. 1991 in press, Hoogstraal 1951, Rabor 1986, Thomas 1898) and in montane and mossy forest from 925-2150 m asl in Balbalasang, Kalinga Province (Heaney et al.
In Lao PDR, this species has been found in all habitats surveyed, from Mekong lowlands to montane areas, evergreen to deciduous forest to scrub (Duckworth et al. 1999). This species is adapted for forest living, yet it tolerates living in areas near humans; sleeping in barns, drains, or roofs during the day, and coming out at night to catch rats or forage for mango, coffee, pineapples, melons, and bananas, it also eats insects and mollusks (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). In Myanmar, it was recorded in mixed deciduous forest and a wide range of evergreen forest-dominated sites (Su Su, 2005, than Zaw et al. in press). This species was recorded in primary lowland rainforest in Tawau Hills National Park in Borneo by Wells et al. (2005). All Bornean civets (except Diplogale hosei) have been recorded in disturbed forest areas, though abundance declines in this habitat (Heydon and Bulloh, 1996; Colon, 2002; pers. comm.). It was recorded in disturbed habitat in Malaysia by Ratnam et al. (1995). It was recorded in secondary forest, that was logged in the 1970s, and which surrounds a palm estate, in Malaysia in 2000-01 by Azlan (2003). This species is largely arboreal (Payne et al. 1985), crepuscular (Azlan, 2005) and nocturnal (e.g. Duckworth 1997). There is interesting variation across its mainland range in habitat use. In Lao PDR it occurs commonly deep within old-growth evergreen and semi-evergreen forest (Duckworth 1997) but it seems to avoid such habitat in the Western Ghats (Mudappa in press).
Palm civets live in tropical forested habitats.
Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest
Palm civets are primarily frugivorous, feeding on berries and pulpy fruits, including those of Ficus trees and palms. P. hermaphroditus is said to pick its fruit carefully, apparently leaving the less ripe fruit for a later date. Palm civets will eat reptiles, eggs, and insects as well.
Paradoxurus hermaphroditus sometimes feeds on the fruits of coffee trees. The coffee beans (seeds) pass through the digestive tract of these civets whole and are collected by humans for use in coffee. This kind of coffee is sought after for its unusual flavor and for its rarity. It was once a regional specialty but is now marketed in high end coffee markets worldwide.
Life History and Behavior
Status: captivity: 22.4 years.
Status: wild: 22.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
During brief periods of mating and when the females have their young, the civets occupy resting trees together.
Average birth mass: 88.65 g.
Average gestation period: 60 days.
Average number of offspring: 3.4.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 341 days.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern
Palm civets are persecuted by fruit agriculturalists. Their habitats are also threatened.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern