Following my blog yesterday on camera trapping the masked palm civet (Paguma larvata) I thought I would continue with some more images and information about this lovely animal.
This little chappy was found and photographed by Andrew Hardacre, post Typhoon a few years back. It is a juvenile and it appeared lost and frightened. It kept close to Andrew, who tried to feed it figs and give it water, and it was later picked up by the SPCA and sent to Kadoorie for rehabilitation.
Thank you again to Lloyd Kenda of Valley Veterinary Centre for his help with the (camera) trapping project, and he has also informed me of the demise of another of these lovely animals, killed by a car on Stubbs road. It seems as though cars are their main predator now...so senseless.
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 (more on that on my blog tomorrow).
Here we are setting up the camera trap.
And here is another picture.
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. This lovely mammal is normally seen at night, and is a solitary predator that can be found in the trees, as it is partly arboreal. However, they have also been known to be active during the day. So what do they eat? They are known to feed on rats and birds as well as on fruit such as figs, mangoes, bananas, and leaves.bQuite the omnivore! You can find this information form looking at its "Scat" (pooh), which also shows that they can eat mollusks, arthropods, bark and to a lesser extent snakes and frogs.
When alarmed, the animal sprays a secretion from its anal gland - which is pretty horrible, much like a skunk.
Scientists say that their mating behaviour is promiscuous, as defined as "Promiscuity is the practice of having casual sex frequently with different partners or being indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners". More fascinating facts: Copulation in masked palm civets can last for more than 30 minutes, and when copulation is finished, males leave a copulation plug in the female's vaginal tract.
Later on the female bears up to four young, and in captivity they have been known to reach 15 years of age.
Here is another cute picture from Andrew of the young one.
oh, and don'g blame this creature for SARS! It all starts with us humans.....as in parts of China masked palm civets are hunted for their meat and eaten. They are often caged and kept near human habitation, and yes, through Inadequate preparation of the meat there may have been the cause for the outbreak of SARS.
BUT.....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.
so, humans gave the disease to the Civet Cat first! so don't blame them. Thank you.
also, PLEASE DO NOT BUY OR DRINK CIVET CAT COFFEE......
unfortunately this is a tragedy...as they are "farmed" for this affectation. They are kept in small wire cages and fed special diets to help collect more bean poop. I would ask everyone NOT to drink civet coffee poop. It is often marketed with a happy looking lemur on the packets! These farms are also a breeding ground for disease and parasites....and future pandemics. It is on a par with bear bile farms and should be more heavily regulated, if not closed completely. from wikipedia "The traditional method of collecting faeces from wild Asian palm civets has given way to an intensive farming method, in which the palm civets are kept in battery cages and are force-fed the cherries. This method of production has raised ethical concerns about the treatment of civets and the conditions they are made to live in, which include isolation, poor diet, small cages, and a high mortality rate".
We also got some other creatures in our trap...like these below...and porcupines, so do check back tomorrow for them.