Traps – still dangerous, still deadly.

We’ve discussed the dangers and consequences of trapping wild civets many a time (1, 2, and 3), and we’re doing so again today. Trapping is a problem that is still prevalent and remains a threat to our civets and other animals that make up our unique wildlife.

It is a worrying phenomenon. Click on the links above and you will see just how much physical and psychological trauma a trapped civet goes through. Imagine their fear and helplessness, which is a dire result of their inquisitiveness and sometimes, when the cage is baited, their desperation and responsibilities to feed their young.

civet mum & babies

Can you spot the mother civet and her two babies in this picture? Photo by Emmanuel Raphael.

Maternal instinct is a wonderful thing. As humans, we celebrate it. To most animals, it is a duty that determines the survival of their young. The civet is one of these animals – solitary in nature, but faithful to her young once they are born until they are mature enough to survive on their own. Many of these urban civet families nest in trees, while a handful of them live in the roof spaces of landed properties too. Cosy, warm, and safe – or so it seems.   

They don’t mean to be a nuisance when they scratch the roof floors. Nor when they play on the roof late at night. They are just being animals, and they mean the residents no harm. But – albeit understandably – many people don’t see it that way. Whatever that is on their roofs can seem to be an “invasion” of their homes, keeping them awake at night with all the noise that they make – so they think that it is only right to get rid of them. The next evening, the civets notice a strange apparatus lying a few metres in front of them.

Perhaps they sniff about it a little, they poke about it with their tiny paws. The mother civet notices a banana within it, and is glad that food has come easy tonight. She ushers her babies back into the roof spacing, and ventures into the metal opening. She takes the banana, and the door of the cage flings shut.

This startles the babies. They try, for a while, to get their mother free while she paces within it, at times trying to run through the boundaries, smashing her nose straight into the bars. Gradually the sun comes up. The babies climb up the trees to hide. Confused, they watch as their mother is taken away by some strange people. Overnight, their lives and their mother’s are no longer cosy, warm, nor safe – or so it seemed at first.

It is hard, especially when you understand both sides of the story. You see why roof spacings are so attractive to the civets. And yet, you also see why people would not like to have something mysterious living in their homes. It is only natural both sides are acting to protect their families and to ensure the best quality of living. However, is there really no compromise that can be achieved?

Trapping is a horrible thing. It causes injuries and instills fear within the animal. But on another level, it separates mothers from their babies too. Furthermore, it is not only the mother civets that end up getting trapped and taken away. Baby civets are also susceptible to traps. Sometimes, they lose their lives as a result of a faltering immunity which in turn is a result of the stress endured while in a trap.   

A family of Siglap civets. Photo by Fung Tze Kwan

A family of Siglap civets. Photo by Fung Tze Kwan

We have always encouraged, on our blog, for everyone to share their living spaces with our wild animals. Many of them will not even attack (unless provoked), and are more generous with their spaces than we are with ours. Remember that Singapore used to be, quite literally, a jungle. It was our urbanization that has driven many of our animals to extinction and to those that remain, desperation.

If anything, it is time to be gracious to these animals, to allow them the simple pleasures of their lives, to raise a family up in a safe shelter and be able to survive in this sometimes harsh, urban landscape. Let’s not use traps to take those pleasures away from them, and to learn to live in harmony with our native civets and other wildlife, even if it means tweaking our mindsets, or changing our lifestyles just so they can breathe easier.

The story of a Sri Lanka civet rescue

We recently received a query from Tusita, who has found a baby civet which was only palm-sized, excluding its tail, in Sri Lanka. The baby has just opened its eyes and Tusita has been feeding it milk several times a day and he even had to wake up at 4 am to feed the hungry baby! Tusita asked how would one know when to start feeding the baby civet fruit pulp such as papaya and apples, so we shared that baby civets generally start to take fruits when their eyes are opened.

According to Tusita, he and his dog found the civet baby through its loud calls and saw it lying at the foot of a large tree in the morning . He estimated that the nest would have been at least 10m tall and was amazed that it survived the fall. He quickly took it away for fear that a dog, macaque, mongoose or even a snake would get to it. For this same reason, he felt that putting the baby back to where it was at night was not feasible due to the presence of other animals, so he will be taking care of it until it is ready to be released back to the wild.

Civet Cat 1

Check out the baby’s white-tipped tail, and the three stripes on its back, a typical characteristic of the common palm civet. It is starting to have its characteristic black facial appearance too!

Palm Cat 1

We are glad that Tusita is providing care for this young baby and is dedicated to raising and returning it to the wild. We hope you will grow up strong and healthy, cute little fella!