It’s World Animal Day!

World Animal Day is celebrated annually on the 4th of October. It was initiated to promote conservation and awareness efforts for endangered animals, so that members of the public would be aware of the existence of these animals and also the threats that they face. Gradually. World Animal Day evolved into a platform that actively advocates animal welfare, pertaining to all kinds of animals whether endangered or not.

In conjunction with World Animal Day, we’ve decided to take a look back on the existence of different species of the Viverridae family in Singapore. Yes, the common palm civet is part of the Viverridae, but in the past, it was not the only Viverridae species on the island. Due to rapid urbanization, many of these species no longer exist on our island, but there are a few that are still sometimes sighted by nature enthusiasts, such as:

malay civet

Malay civet, Viverra tangalunga (John Bakar, 2008)


Masked palm civet, Paguma larvata (Smith, 2011)


Large indian civet, Viverra zibetha (Tontantravel, 2014)


Three-Striped palm civet or small toothed palm civet, Arctogalidia trivirgata  (Nick Baker, 2015)

These civets are extremely elusive. For example, an image of the Malay civet was captured on a camera trap back in 2012, but no one has actually seen it in the flesh before. The rest of the civet species are restricted to Singapore’s nature reserves and are hardly observed. This shows us how they are, really, not too keen on getting our attention at all and would much rather be left alone. However, it is encouraging to know that there is still a handful of them amongst us, and that they haven’t fully deserted our garden city yet. If you are interested to find out the diversity and status of civets in Singapore, you can read the Chua et. al. (2012) report.

In addition, Singapore also used to be home to other species of the civet family. These include the large spotted civet (Viverra megaspila), small indian civet (Viverricula indica) and binturong (Arctictis binturong). The existence of the binturong on the island is indeterminate, for there was a recent capture of an individual in the Bukit Panjang area in 2004. Furthermore, the sighting of a certain “bear-like creature” in 2010 led to the speculation that the creature might actually be a binturong. Unfortunately, with no conclusive evidence and no subsequent sightings, that speculation was soon tossed out.

While it is sad that these species no longer exist in Singapore, it is also heartening to know that in spite of all the urban and industrial development that Singapore has gone through, the common palm civet’s adaptability has allowed it to survive here in urban Singapore.

However, we must remember that although some of these animals are rarely seen nowadays, we cannot be too quick to dismiss its existence in Singapore. After all, just because we do not see them does not mean that they do not live amongst us. This World Animal Day, let us know if you’ve had sightings of other species of Viverridae before, and maybe, if you’ve got a picture to share, send it over! We are always happy to hear from you. Meanwhile, let us spread the message and spirit of World Animal Day, to always be conscious of the existence of other creatures around us, to respect them and to always be kind towards them. 

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Solutions for Civet-Human Conflict: Alternatives to Traps

Last month, we reiterated the discouragement on the use of traps. But what are some humane alternatives that you can take or do to prevent civets from nesting in spaces of your home, should you not want them there? We advocate solutions that are beneficial to both the humans and civets, so who doesn’t like a win-win situation? We’ve put together a short list of solutions which we hope will help as it has helped many of our readers before as well.

1. Block off all access points

Yes, this takes up a bit of work and time but the provision of a physical barrier is often sufficient to prevent civets from entering the home. Gaps between the roof and ceilings are common entry points for the civets to nestle inside the roof spaces, so to prevent this from happening, you can utilise cable ties and wire mesh to block the gaps. Also, patch up any holes in the roofing that may potentially allow the civet(s) to enter your home. This seems easy, but is no child’s task when the areas are dangerous and difficult for us humans to reach! It is best to contact a contractor who can do this for you.

2. Make noises to signify that you don’t want them there.

This method is tried, tested, and proven by one of our readers, Kate, who contacted us to notify us that there was some form of animal activity going on in her roof. And it’s not noise in the form of howling or yelling. Rather, it’s a targeted form of noise-making. For example, when you hear that the civets are in your roof, sometimes scurrying about and playing, hit your ceiling board continuously where you suspect they are at. The noise and floor vibrations will frighten them and according to Kate, they haven’t been back since.

3. Burn some incense.

We are not sure if just any kind of incense works, but we know that a certain Frankincense does. This can be purchased from a little shop along Arab Street, unit number 95, called Aljunied Brothers. The incense looks like this:


From left to right: The packaging of Frankincense and what you should expect to see when you remove the cover. The rightmost picture shows joss-stick cups that can be used to burn the Frankincense in. Thereafter, the cups should be placed in another clay container which holds the cups while the incense burns. (All images are from Grace Yap)

You will also need an accompanying lamp container which you can use to burn the incense in. Speak to the shopkeepers to learn and understand how to burn it in a safe and effective way, to ensure that it does not become a fire hazard. 

As most animals are sensitive to smells and scents, especially those that repulse them, the use of incense is a good and effective method to deter civets from entering your home. It also does not harm them in any way and merely acts as a repellent.

There are also other alternatives such as high frequency devices but have yet been proven to keep civets away. If you do know of any humane alternatives to keeping the civets away from your home, do let us know in the comment thread below and we can add it to this list!

We hope that we have helped you make more animal conscious decisions. Think twice before using a trap – there are other better, safer, and kinder methods that you can explore to keep your home civet-free.

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