The civet diet talk that made me lose sleep over!

251011 – Civet Diet Talk at Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary)

Nearly 3 months ago, at the same time when my talk at Raffles Institution was fixed, I was invited to give a talk at my Alma Mata Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) on their Research Showcase Day 25 Oct 2011. This was not like the other 4 talks that I have given because I was specifically requested to share more of my research experience such as the challenges that I faced and how I overcame them. The objective would be to enthuse the girls and make them interested in research which they will be given an opportunity to explore as they proceed to upper secondary.

Time flew past and as I returned from my trip to Indonesia, I began to prepare myself mentally as it would be my first time speaking to a large audience in an assembly hall. Also, I reorganised my slides with some advice from Siva and added in photos of my project which I thought may interest the 14 and 15 year old girls. Weiting has kindly lent me her slides which I used to introduce the common palm civet and her research work to the students while Marcus has kindly sent me some photos which I used to introduce other zoological explorations in Singapore.

This is the kind of talk that will make you excited but at the same time, lose sleep over (I really did not sleep much the night before).

On the actual day, I travelled to RGS armed with two honours posters, Weiting’s and mine. It felt great to be back and Ms Tan Beng Chiak was really kind to set up the remote control upon my request. Soon it was my turn to speak and I spoke! The girls responded to the little tip that Ron gave me after our civet recce the night before and the talk went well! I was really happy when I heard all the exclaims and discussions after the girls saw the different forms and colours that a civet poop may be.

Giving my talk to an audience of 800 RGS girls!

Giving my talk to an audience of 800 RGS girls!

Common palm civet - the last wild native urban carnivore

Common palm civet - the last wild native urban carnivore

Its research showcase day + house t shirt wearing day!

Its research showcase day + house t shirt wearing day!

It was really an honour to be invited back to give this talk. I had a really great time and hope that the girls had learnt something new and maybe a few of them would go into mammal research and biodiversity conservation in future! A few girls came to talk to me after my talk! =)

Thank you Mr Joseph Toh and Ms Tan Beng Chiak for the kind hospitality and it was nice meeting Mr Lim Cheng Puay!

Civet research presented from atop a garbage bin!

NCRT was at a campsite today to share our research findings with a group of 20 NIE student-teachers who have adopted the Musang Watch as part of their outreach project! The group is supervised by Vilma from NIE and Cicada Tree Eco Place who has helped me a lot for my civet diet research. We are very happy that this group of student-teachers is interested in increasing awareness of our last native wild carnivore to primary school children! We also have with us three friends – Huilian, Jun Hien & Ron!

Initially, a recce was planned to be conducted today, however due to miscommunication, we were unable to access the site. Not wanting to miss the chance to share our findings with the student-teachers, we made use of what we have around us – laptop and garbage bin (Ron’s creative idea). Thus, NCRT gave our talks to a group of 20 NIE student-teachers using a laptop on a garbage bin!

Civet girl sharing her research findings!

Civet girl sharing her research findings!

Civet POOP girl sharing her research findings!

Civet POOP girl sharing her research findings!

The highlight of the evening has to go to the civet who visited a resident’s garden which got all the student-teachers excited! This is the first time they saw a civet. As we thought that we were probably not going to see any more civets, we suddenly smelt pandan (the civet anal gland secretion smells like pandan)! I jokingly said that the civet must have come to attend my talk on civet poop. It was indeed an unique experience for the student-teachers to smell the civet before seeing it.

While this recce trip did not turn out to be what we have expected, all of us had a great time learning more about the civet and seeing the civet! We also had a great catch up conversation with the residents there who have helped Weiting and I for our research projects! Vilma later told us that “They (the student-teachers) got to see a couple of musangs and to hear 2 great research studies presented from atop a garbage bin! Very unique!…”

We are looking forward to the actual event some time in November!

– As long as we have an interested audience, it does not matter where the talks were held!

Speaking up for the toddycats & getting all civety!

The NUS Civet Research Team (NCRT) (yes, Weiting and I gave ourselves a name!) has been keeping ourselves busy speaking up for the toddycats and doing civety work for the past months!

040811 – Civet Diet Talk at Raffles Science Institute

In early August, shortly after my first talk at Ubin, I went back to my alma mater to share my research experiences and findings with the teachers and juniors. I was the first to give this Cafe Scientifique talk at Raffles Science Institute and was warmly welcomed by the people (lots of food and drinks! Yummy!). I had to look around a bit to find the Open Lab as Raffles Science Institute was not present during my time in RJC (now known as RI). I then found out that the RSI was set up to expose interested students to research early and some of the projects are even collaborations with NUS!

RSI Civet Talk

RSI Civet Talk

Before I started, Adrian introduced me to the table of audience. He said “When Tze Kwan walked into the Open Lab, she told Abby that she was one of her TAs for LSM 1103! Then I told her that I was Abby’s TA for LSM1103 and her supervisor, Siva, was my TA for LSM 1103!” We all laughed and then I proceeded to give my talk. It never fails to make me happy when I see the fascinated faces of the audience. I was glad that everyone was interested and started shooting questions even before the presentation ended! The juniors asked questions about my materials and methods which I thought was some good questions which may help them in their research projects.

For this talk, I improved on some of my slides and added in a slide on ‘Civet Outreach’ which I hope to convey the conservation message on a more personal note. I was very grateful to Adrian, Abby and other Biology teachers for their hospitality and for providing me with feedback and suggestions for my research.

From left to right: Me, Abby & Adrian (Photo by Adrian)

From left to right: Me, Abby & Adrian (Photo by Adrian)

I then toured around the school and was very delighted that RJ is now much more into Biodiversity! They have the Raffles Biodiversity Pond, Raffles Orchard and many more trees were planted, thanks to the effort of the Biology teachers! It was a great day back to school! I never thought that one day, I will go back to my school to give a talk as a researcher. The feeling of contributing back to my alma mater is so heartwarming, and I really thank Abby, Adrian and Siva for the opportunity! Just to give a heads up – I will be sharing my research experiences at my alma mater (secondary school) in October! 

Raffles Biodiversity Pond

Raffles Biodiversity Pond

100811 – WOW! Civet talks by NCRT at Night Safari Singapore

This day was special – inaugural NCRT talk! This is the first time Civet girl, Xu Weiting and Civet poop girl, Fung Tze Kwan gave civet talks together!

In early June, both of us received invitation emails from Wildlife Reserves Singapore to invite us to present our projects undertaken at the zoo during their WOW (Windows On Wildlife) lunchtime talks. This monthly WOW talk acts as a platform for researchers, staff and others to share their research findings, conservation and zoo-related knowledge with WRS staff. Weiting previously collaborated with Night Safari for her surveys at Siglap/Opera Estate while I collaborated with NS for my gut passage experiments.   

WOW Talk - Weiting

WOW Talk - Weiting

WOW Talk - Tze Kwan

WOW Talk - Tze Kwan

Weiting presented first so that it would be a natural flow for our presentations which we worked on after much discussion. The talks were good and the audience included vets, keepers and staff from education department. It was a great sharing session with responses from vets and the staff. This talk has given us the opportunity to be involved in more civety work!

Civet girl did a great job!

Civet girl did a great job!

Reflection of the day: Every talk is an unique experience. I will learn, improve and do better the next time.

220811 – Civet Diet Talk to fellow Colleagues at NUS

I am currently working as a research assistant in NUS after I graduated (although I sound like a full time civet researcher!). Sharing my civet diet research with my colleagues probably sounds really normal but the interesting thing is we deal with freshwater!

At the end of the July meeting, I was told to lead a discussion or to share a research topic during the August meeting. My team leader and other colleagues knew that I have been giving civet diet talks then encouraged me to present my research findings for that session (they wanted to hear my talk!). A month flew past quickly and I presented before the lunch break. One of my colleagues started shooting questions at my very first slide! But it was a great start as the session became more interactive than I thought it would have been! At the end of the session, one of the research assistants told me that this was one of the most interesting talks that she has attended in a very long time! Wow! That was so encouraging!

I really thank my PI, team leader and colleagues for being so supportive of me all these while. I would not be able to gain so many memorable talk experiences if not for their kind understanding!

050911 – RMBR Toddycats Engage! Our first exhibition planning meeting

Siva wrote on the Toddycats blog,

“Dear Toddycats, We did have one of the most successful exhibitions and guiding natural history teams in Singapore in the past, e.g. see posts on exhibitions. Well now, the civet ladies Xu Weiting and Fung Tze Kwan are reviving an exhibition team in relation to conservation of the common palm civet.”

Yes! Weiting and I (NCRT! Hooray!) are now in charge of coordinating the exhibition team! We had our first meeting on 5th Sept 2011, 6.30pm at DBS Conference Room 2 as planned and met up with old and new Toddycats to discuss the plans for the exhibition events, roles and responsibilities, and possible fieldtrips. Siva gave us a background on the previous exhibition events and shared some stories with us! The highlight had to go to Junius’ 3D papercrafts of our local wildlifes! I really like those and think that they have great potential as children and public education materials!

Wildlife Series 1 (Photo by Xinheritage)

Wildlife Series 1 (Photo by Xinheritage)

Wildlife Series 2 (Photo by Xinheritage)

Wildlife Series 2 (Photo by Xinheritage)

It was a really great evening with the Toddycats and I was glad that everyone left feeling really excited! A year 2 life science student was telling me excitedly that she was so glad that there is Toddycats where she can participate in nature related events and that she came for the meeting! Just a note, Siva, Weiting and I visited ACRES in the same afternoon and had a great time in their ‘native garden’!

The first event for Toddycats Engage! will be setting up a specimen exhibition booth at the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III on Sat 24 Sep 2011. We will activate the booth for the early morning crowd and during the tea breaks! There will be a briefing and training session next Monday, 19 Sep 2011: 6.30pm @ DBS Lab 7 [Block S2, Level 3]. If you are interested to join us, sign up at: http://tinyurl.com/toddycats-boss3

Other civety work and future civet outreach plans

NCRT is currently working on various civety work. One of which where we had to visit Portsdown, Civet girl Weiting found a civet poop on a grass patch and we then found a second poop around the same area! We are also working on possible future educational musang night walks and other outreach methods such as exhibitions. We are grateful that we have the guidance from Siva and many others who help us in our effort on common palm civet conservation!

It is definitely rewarding. The civets know too and they show it – my friend Hui Lian and I found 2 civet poop right outside our workplace just today! And some time ago, I was treated to a lifer – a civet climbing up a tree! Go NCRT!

Happy Civet poop girl with her finds!

Happy Civet poop girl with her finds!

My first talk on Civet Poop! With otter and jungle fowl at Ubin

A little more than a year ago, I approached my supervisor Siva to discuss a potential final year project on mammals (mammals and only mammals! I even suggested a behavioral study on captive lions!). At that time, there was an Honours project on the autecology of the common palm civet in Singapore conducted by Xu Weiting. Through her project, there present a knowledge gap in the diet of the common palm civet in both forested and urban environments in Singapore. Recognising the possible conservation implications (conservation of forest and the common palm civet), I eagerly took up this project.

A year ago, I set up this blog and wrote the first post to request for help from the public for civet scat contribution, and continued to blog about my project updates.

Last week on 27th July 2011, Wednesday, I gave my first talk and presented my civet research work to the NParks staff on Pulau Ubin. This means more than just an opportunity for me to share my findings with others and to hone my presentation skills, because more than 50% of the civet scats I have collected were from the weekly fieldtrips on Ubin.

On the day itself, Meryl (Otter) picked up Amanda (Jungle fowl) and I from Tampines MRT station and drove us to Changi Point Ferry Terminal. We reached at 8:55am (we were late! ) and met up with Siva before we took the bumboat to Ubin at 9am.

Left to right: Otter, Civet and Jungle Fowl!

Left to right: Otter, Civet and Jungle Fowl! (Photo: Siva)

Like tourists at Ubin

Like tourists at Ubin (Photo:Siva)

 We were around 45 min early when we reached the Volunteer Hub but all these extra minutes and seconds were important to us. We could have been caught in the rain if we were later and we also realised that we needed to set up and check through our slides, which I was glad that we did!

Beautiful Ubin with dark clouds

Beautiful Ubin with dark clouds (Photo: Siva)

 Because of the heavy rain, we had the honour to present to more than just the Ubin NParks staff! Siva met Grace who brought her students to listen to our talks!

What a crowd! (Photo: Siva)

What a crowd! (Photo: Siva)

 Meryl, Amanda and I then presented our projects and answered questions raised by students and the NParks staff.

In order of presentation:

  • “Status, distribution and diet of the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)” by Meryl Theng. 3rd year UROPS, AY2010/11.
  • “The diet of the common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), in urban and forested environments” by Fung Tze Kwan. Honours, AY2010/11.
  • “The population of the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus) in a forest fragment in Bukit Batok” by Amanda Tan. 3rd year UROPS, AY2010/11 Sem 1.

It was a great session where we got to communicate our research findings and also to learn from each other. I was happy when I heard the delightful whispers when the audience saw my cover slide and the ‘eee’ when they saw photos of the poop. I hope that I managed to bring across the messages that I wanted to convey through my presentation.

Here are some of the comments that we had:

  • Thank you for letting my students join your talk! It was a real eye opener for them: to learn more about these animals and about research work that biologists carry out. They were really impressed by the project and are more concerned about Ubin Biod! Sorry we had to leave before the last talk – we had our activities to carry out. cheers! – Grace (commented on Siva’s facebook)
  • All of you did a good job with the Otterman 😉 – Yook Sau (NParks)
  • Good job today at Ubin by otter, civet and red jungle fowl – Siva (Supervisor!)

I am really glad that the comments are positive and encouraging but there is always room for improvement and thus reflection.

Reflection (Photo: Siva)

Reflection (Photo: Siva)

We then took a bumboat back to mainland Singapore and had our lunch and debrief at Changi Village!

My supervisor Siva

Siva the Otterman!

Thank you Siva and the Ubin NParks staff  for this opportunity to share and learn! Special thanks to Weiting who is always so willing to listen to all my dry runs!

This thursday, I will be going back to my alma mater to share my research findings and experiences with my juniors. It will be held at the OpenLab at the Raffles Science Institute. More updates then!

First Kids’ Musang Watch – A success!

The first Kids’ Musang Watch organised by Cicada Tree Eco-Place on Sunday, 22 May 2011, was a success! All of us saw the musang and went home learning more about the musang and her forest friends!

Weiting and I arrived early at Siglap at 5.15pm and were greeted by a civet poo poo! Instinctively, I took a photograph and examined the poo. From the smell alone, I knew there were animal parts in the poop. True enough, I found centipede legs, wings amongst the partially digested rain tree pod and grass!

Civet poo poo

Civet poo poo

We met up with Vilma and proceeded to set up the projector and helped out with the registration as people started arriving. Among the volunteers were friends from  Cicada Tree Eco-Place and Nature Society Singapore – Andrew, Gloria, Tim, Yue Yun, and Lena!  With us were also a few NTU students whom Vilma knows and will be going to yunnan for a youth expedition project. They want to help CTEP with activities as part of their pre and post expedition. While waiting for all participants to arrive, some kids were happily exploring the field!

Kids exploring the field

Kids exploring the field

The event started with a talk by Vilma on Mily the Musang and her forest friends. Vilma shared about the common palm civets and other mammals using photographs and by asking the children to tell her what they see and know. It was quite impressive that these children aged 6-12 know that civets are nocturnal and that colugo glides and not fly!

Vilma telling kids and their parents about Mily the Musang

Vilma telling kids and their parents about Mily the Musang

In addition, the children were also very enthusiastic and were very willing to share what they know! They had many questions to ask too! One kid had a question about civets and SARS which Weiting explained patiently that the animal that was implicated in the outbreak of SARS was actually the masked palm civets and not our common palm civets. However, this also points to the danger of possible outbreak of virus and danger of interspecies transmission of virus if  we consume wildlife (bushmeat) or live in close proximity due to the loss of their natural habitats caused by human actions. I shared about the diet of the common palm civets with the audience. The children responded with an ‘eeeeeeeeeeeee’ when Vilma introduced me by saying that I studied the poo poo of the musang. Vilma brought along fruits such as the chiku and noni to show the children and soon we heard “Smelly!” everywhere! It was also heartening to hear children saying that “civets help plants to reproduce” when I talked about civets defecating seeds in the poo poo!

Enthusiastic kids answering and asking questions

Enthusiastic kids answering and asking questions

Andrew sharing about dangers mammals face

Andrew sharing about dangers mammals face

A captivated crowd eager to learn about the musang!

A captivated crowd eager to learn about the musang!

The talk ended with “Make A Difference” and when asked how they can make a difference, some children said build a home for the civets (Andrew mentioned the civets will prefer their natural home – the forests), others mentioned fining people who mistreat the civets!

We CAN make a difference!

We CAN make a difference!

We then brought the children and parents around to look for the civets in groups. For the welfare of the civets, the participants were told to speak quietly, not to use flash photography, and only the guides held the torchlight. All of us managed to sight the civets and there was one that even ‘cat walked’ up and down on the electric cable! Both children and adults were fascinated when they saw the wild civets! Some parents even asked me about Kopi Luwak and my study, and also feedback that this event allowed them to realise that we still have wildlife amongst us! Weiting also told me that there were parents who asked her about the sounds the civets make, the litter size of the civets and the number of civets living in Siglap!

Night walk and spotting musangs!

Night walk and spotting musangs!

Everyone was happy at the end of the event!

There was this little girl who was disappointed at the start of the walk as we could not find any civets but with some encouragement, she continued looking for the civet and her patience paid off! I could not forget the smile on her face when she came running to me, telling me excitedly, “I saw it already!”

All of us were so glad that this event turned out to be a success and that there are many people who are interested in native animals (30 kids were registered for this event)! Education is the way to go and hopefully, this is the first of the many other civet educational events that may be conducted in future!

Special thanks to Vilma for this wonderful opportunity for us to share about the civets!

Back to Ubin! and an unexpected civet poop site!

回到大自然的感觉真好!
It felt great to be back in the embrace of mother nature! This is especially so after 2 months of thesis writing and examinations!

My friends and I visited Pulau Ubin for a cycling and sightseeing trip on Tuesday. There was a morning shower but the weather was great as we reached Ubin. It was nice to see the familiar faces of the NParks rangers and the people there.

We cycled to Chek Jawa as one of our objectives was to visit Chek Jawa at low tide!

Chek Jawa

Chek Jawa

Chek Jawa is so beautiful, especially during low tide with little puddles of water in the midst of the land and the reflection of the sky in the water. Also not forgetting the biodiversity that we can see during low tide. I was lucky, I have been to Chek Jawa a number of times because of fieldwork and the scenery never fails to energise me to work hard for the remaining journey! I have sighted a variety of animals at Chek Jawa from the number of trips, such as the oriental pied hornbills, a family of red jungle fowls, different bird species, mudskippers, malayan monitor lizards, horseshoe crabs, variety of crab species e.g. the fiddler crabs etc! Do you know that even the civets visit Chek Jawa? The presence of their poop on the boardwalk was the evidence!

Fiddler crab Uca sp.

Fiddler crab Uca sp.

We then headed back for lunch before setting off for Jalan Jelutong! We stopped by Pekan Quarry for sightseeing and then continued with our cycling. We decided to visit Ubin Quarry.

Ubin Quarry

Ubin Quarry

It was my first time there and the scenery was breathtaking! Everything (living or non-living) seems to fall in place so nicely! Then something caught my eye…

Civet poop at the edge of the cliff!

Civet poop at the edge of the cliff!

A closer look…

Civet poop - fishtail palm and probably fig

Civet poop - fishtail palm and probably fig

It was a nice find! I could almost imagine the civet defecating at that particular spot! We then continued our journey to Jalan Wat Siam before heading back to the jetty.

Why should we conserve our natural heritage? We conserve our natural heritage for many reasons, for its ecological, socio-cultural and economic values. But I was thinking,  if only we could just conserve our natural heritage because of its natural existence, because we appreciate its beauty and  just want to be in the embrace of mother nature…  

Visit Pulau Ubin if you can!

(Please check out the Kids’ Musang Watch organised by Cicada Tree Eco-Place in this blog post too!)

Kids’ Musang Watch!

Cicada Tree Eco-Place is organising a Kids’ Musang Watch on Sunday 22 May, 6.30 to 8.30pm, in celebration of International Day of Biological Diversity! Weiting and myself will be there on that day too!

This kids’ event is suitable for kids 5 to 12 years old, and their families. The event is free, and registration is required as space is limited.

Find out where they live, what they eat, why they choose Siglap as their constituency!

Photo credits: Chan Kwok Wai

Photo credits: Chan Kwok Wai

Enquiries and registration: Celine Low at contact@cicadatree.org.sg
Details will be given to you once you are registered.

For more information, please visit http://www.cicadatree.org.sg/eep_musang.html

More information on International Day for Biological Diversity, go to http://www.cbd.int/idb/.

Cicada Tree Eco-Place is a non-government, non-profit organisation that promotes the natural and cultural heritage of Singapore through environmental education and eco-living.

Information and text credits: Cicada tree eco-place

Fishtail palm Caryota mitis – The common palm civet’s favourite food?

Remember the ‘blueberry jam’ civet scats that are quite commonly seen?

Civet scat consisting of fishtail palm

Civet scat consisting of fishtail palm

These ‘blueberry jam’ civet scats consist of the fruit peels and seeds of the fishtail palm! From the diet study that I have conducted, the dominant fruit with seeds present in the scats was the fishtail palm Caryota mitis. This is consistent with other findings which pointed to Caryota spp. being a common food item in the diet of the common palm civet (Bartels, 1964; Corlett, 1998; Xu & Sivasothi, 2010). Thus, it is not without reason that civet scats that were easily recognised by the public were those that contained fishtail palm seeds!

What is a fishtail palm?
 

Fishtail palm

Fishtail palm

The fishtail palm can be easily recognised by its leaves which are shaped like a fish tail which gave it its name.

Fishtail palm leaves

Fishtail palm leaves

The fruit of the fishtail palm is 1.5 cm in diameter and contains a large seed (1.1 cm), which has a thin fleshy mesocarp containing calcium oxalate (Sento, 1971). The fruits are purplish red when riped (DO NOT touch them with your bare hands! The calcium oxalate will cause serious itchness!). By swallowing the indigestible seeds, the civet would obtain relatively less nutrients as compared to a berry of similar fruit size. (Photo of a civet in a fishtail palm)

Fishtail palm fruits

Fishtail palm fruits

So, is the fishtail palm the favourite food of the common palm civets?

We do not know the preference of the common palm civet currently, however, what we hypothesis is that what the fishtail palm lacks in nutrition, it makes up in availability. The fishtail palm is unique in its phenology as once it reaches maturity, it will begin producing inflorescences. Infructescences appear sequentially from top to bottom over several years and represent a productive food source for the common palm civet (Mahabale & Shirke, 1968; Llamas, 2003).

Mature plants appear to be fruiting all year round whereas other species found in this diet study such as the tembusu Fagraea fragrans, only fruit seasonally (Polunin, 1987). Indeed Rabinowitz (1991) reported that while fruits were eaten by the common palm civet whenever available, fruit availability is variable spatially and temporarily. This consumption of fishtail palm fruit may represent the best strategy in the absence of a consistent and more nutritious food source.

Fruiting tembusu

Fruiting tembusu

This diet dependency suggests a key stone species role for the fishtail palm in secondary forests. The plant also may be providing food for other animals all year round such as long tailed macaques, squirrels and birds such as the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) (Bird Ecology Study Group, 2007) which are known to feed on at least some part of the fishtail palm. BESG has also reported that birds such as the Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata hodgsoni), Yellow Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) and the Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans) also feed on these fruits!

Long tailed macaque feeding on fishtail palm

Long tailed macaque feeding on fishtail palm fruit

What do we know about the fishtail palm currently?

A native species, this plant is now planted as an ornamental tree for urban landscaping and is readily available. It may be an important plant in rehabilitating degraded secondary forests in conjunction with other plantings and introductions of frugivores such as the common palm civets to aid in dispersal. However, relatively little is actually known about the ecology of the fishtail palm (Raich, 1990) and a study should be initiated in the near future.

So, next time when you are in the bus or car, look out of the window and try to spot these plants! I am sure they will pop out at you now and remember, our last native urban carnivore loves these fruits (at least to some extent)!

Our native common palm civet

Our native common palm civet

Threats to urban civets

Life as an urban civet might have some perks. Urban civets are frequently surrounded by nice yummy fruits (eg. mango and chiku) on fruit trees which people plant in their gardens. Furthermore, urban civets might also live in cosy roof spaces where they seek shelter during the cold rainy times.

However, life as an urban civet is definitely not a bed of roses. It can sometimes be a tough and unpredictable life that they lead while trying to survive in this urban landscape.

There are several threats that urban civets commonly face. Firstly, urban civets have to watch out for traps set up by a minority group of humans who dislike civets in close proximity with them.

Injured trapped civet

Trapped civet with an abrasion on its snout awaiting its release (Photo by Xu Weiting)

Trapped civets usually sustain injuries to their snouts and gums, while attempting to escape the cages. Luckily for these civets, they only have superficial injuries and if they are healthy, they will be released back to the wild.

The next two threats are often fatal to urban civets.

An urban area also means busy streets, where cars zoom by. Civets sometimes use roads to travel from one area to another. Unfortunately, while doing so, civets sometimes get killed and become roadkill.

Furthermore, pet dogs can sometimes be a danger to civets, as they are sometimes caught unaware. This is particularly so in young and inexperienced civets. Once caught in a jaws of a dog, these small civets often end up dead with puncture wounds.

Dead baby musang bitten by a dog (Photo by Vilma D'Rozario)

Dead baby musang bitten by a dog (Photo by Vilma D'Rozario)

So now, do you really think being an urban civet is THAT easy? For one wrong move, it could very well end up dead.

Hence, it is of utmost importance for us to do our part to reduce the threats that urban civets face. Civets might create a little bit of trouble, but it is definitely more afraid of you than vice versa. The presence of urban civets should be celebrated as part of Singapore’s natural history. So let’s be gracious and share some of our living space with them.

Toddycats captured on video!

Special thanks to KL Tan for sharing these videos!

Turn on the volume to hear the young civet calling for its mum!

If you are interested,
Civet at Siglap Part 2/4
Civet at Siglap Part 3/4
Civet at Siglap Part 4/4

If you have any photos/videos of the common palm civets in Singapore, please feel free to email me at fungtzekwan@gmail.com or drop a comment!

We would appreciate it if you could also submit your civet sightings (or any mammal sightings) to our mammal records submission form.This information will be very useful for future mammal studies!

Thank you very much!