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If you see a medium sized animal in the trees then chances are it is the masked palm civet or gem-fa


This mammal has adapted well to urban development. I have seen these animals a few times whilst walking around the Peak and Mid-Levels at night, and here is a juvenile that we found near the Matilda Hospital one night.

Masked palm civet coats can vary in colour but the feet are always dark, often black, and the melanism usually extends partway up the legs, and the “mask” consists of a prominent white stripe stretching from nose to forehead. The end of a masked palm civet's tail is sometimes darker than the majority of its coat.

This pretty little mammal is most often seen at night, normally in trees as it is an excellent tree climber. It is a solitary predator, and it is an omnivore feeding on rats, snakes and birds as well as on fruit such as figs, mangoes, bananas, and leaves.

In parts of China masked palm civets are hunted for their meat and eaten. Inadequate preparation of the meat may have been the cause for the outbreak of SARS. It is now thought that probably humans got SARS from bats, then humans gave it to pigs and to civets, and then these small carnivores may have given the disease back to humans. All the cases of SARS associated with the outbreak appeared to be part of the bat branch of the coronavirus phylogeny.


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