Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee
Recently I published a post- Sticking Up For The Obscure – in which I voiced my misgivings about there being a bias of coverage towards the more iconic species in wildlife documentaries and the media in general. So here’s the first of a new weekly series looking at the more unusual and lesser known mammal species that you may not have come across before.
A large member of the Civet family, residing over a large range in Asia, including: India, Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. It is one of only two carnivores to have a prehensile tail, the other being the kinkajou. Despite its stocky build, it’s an agile and skilled tree climber, spending the majority of its time in the canopy. Due to its appearance, it’s also referred to as the Bearcat.
It has a varied diet, predominantly made up of small mammals, insects, fruit, leaves and shoots. They have even been known in rare cases to enter rivers and catch fish. They are typically solitary creatures, have flexible home ranges and go out of their way to avoid other civets. Their lifespan can be up to 25 years in captivity, where much of our information on them comes from. Very little footage or photographic evidence exists of them in the wild- this is probably due to them living mainly in tall, dense tropical forest.
Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, they are threatened with a loss of habitat from logging. It’s thought their population has been reduced by 30% over the past 30 years and they’re no longer a common sight anywhere in their range. Due to their docile character they’re also known to be trapped for the pet trade in countries such as the Philippines and eaten as delicacies in Vietnam and China.
They’re active during the day and night, but individuals studied closely exhibited a tendency towards crepuscular and nocturnal behaviour.