Civet cats and civet poop!

Yesterday, at the Zoo, we had a lunchtime talk. Part of the Windows on Wildlife (WOW) talks, Xu Weiting and Fung Tze Kwan from NUS came down to tell us more about their project on the Common Palm Civet, also known as the Toddycat and the Musang.

Weiting first gave us the big picture: what civets are. They’re not cats, they’re more closely related to hyenas and otters; hence civet cat is just a misnomer (like many others that we have). Her study was a general one on the civets in Singapore. We used to have 9 species of civets in Singapore! Unfortunately, we only have 3 or 4 left now (sorry I can’t remember clearly :/), and the Common Palm Civet is the most common one. She talked about where they’re found, their diet, people’s perception of them, their role in the ecosystem among many others.

Most Singaporeans don’t know what they have in their own backyards. The Common Palm Civet can not only be found in forested, wild areas, but also in urban/suburban areas, like the Siglap/Opera Estate area. They’re highly adaptable and have managed to get by living alongside humans, though I guess the reverse isn’t true. From a survey that Weiting did on the Siglap/Opera Estate residents as well as NUS undergraduates, most people would want the civets to be caught by AVA and released somewhere else. Sighs, I would like to have some civet cats in my backyard…

After Weiting finished, Tze Kwan introduced her project, which was more specific. It was on the diet of the civets, how important they are as agents of fruit dispersals and stuff. So it turns out that they eat a lot of fruits, some 90+% of their diet is fruits (if I remember correctly). Even though they are classified as carnivores.

Their main diet is the Fishtail Palm seeds, as well as Rain tree seeds and some others I cannot remember. So that’s really cool, if we want more civet cats in our forests, then we ought to plant more Fishtail Palms!

They talked about a lot more detail that I unfortunately, cannot remember, however it was a great talk and I really learnt quite a bit (: So fascinating, their projects.

More can be found on Tze Kwan (who went to RJC to give her talk as well last Thursday 4 Aug)’s project at her blog: http://blog.nus.edu.sg/civetpoop/

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About Jocelyne Sze

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
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