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Another more common mammal....the lovely masked palm civet

Another more common mammal....the lovely MASKED PALM CIVET AKA GEM-FACED CIVET (Paguma larvata)

As these creatures are difficult to approach in the wild, I decided to set up a camera trap..

First I reconnoitre a given area to try and establish any animal paths. Then I put up trail cams to see if I can learn behaviour, like time of visit, and how many different animals (or people!).

These images are poor quality, like these below, but they do time stamps, show routes and numbers, and also like here, sometimes show a mother with a couple of cubs...

Then I set up a DSLR with some weather protection and an infra-red heat sensitive trigger, which can be seen on the far right of this photo below.

I manual focus using 40mm and f8 which gives a good depth-of-field, and then link the camera to a flash placed high above. The unit is programmed to only fire at night, as these animals are nocturnal, with appearances around 8-9pm then 2am and 5am.

Then it is a case of luck and checking the camera a couple of days later.....and a big thank you to Lloyd Kenda of Valley Veterinary Centre for location scouting and his help scrambling up the hills, and chocolate cake. It's not all hard work you know.....

Its quite a bit of work....but the images are quite unique as I would never be able to capture the civet cats so close in the wild like this....

The genus Paguma was first named and described by John Edward Gray in 1831, and in recent times, masked palm civets were considered to be a likely vector of SARS .

The masked palm civet resembles other palm civets, but does not have spots or stripes, and it has a black and white facial mask. They can get quite large, with the adult body up to 70cm or more, and a tail of another 60cm.

When alarmed, this animal can spray a pungent secretion from its anal gland, much like a skunk. Scientists say that their mating behaviour is "promiscuous", and copulation can last for more than 30 minutes. When finished, males leave a copulation plug in the female's vaginal tract to prevent other civets from impregnating the female. Later on, the female bears up to four young and, in captivity, they have been known to reach 15 years of age. Its "scat" (poo) has no odour when the civet has been eating exclusively on fruits. Some species of civets are farmed (in atrocious conditions) to produce Kopi Luwak or "civet coffee". In recent times, masked palm civets were considered to be a likely intermediate host and vector of SARS. SEE THEM: Often seen at night in urban areas, and mostly seen in trees as it is an excellent climber. Normally solitary, unless a mother with young. SPECIES ID: Dark greyish body, with a white blaze on the forehead. They can be quite large.


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