Asian Common Palm Civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus): Non-Ringtails of South and Southeast Asia

by DerdriuMarriner

Asian common palm civets inhabit east, south, and southeast Asia. They like palm pulp, sap, and toddy. They make coffee, fur, meat, medicine, and perfume dealing super-successful.

Scientists accept the partly appropriate, partly not, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus as the Asian common palm civet’s Latin, scientific, taxonomic name.

Hermaphroditic cannot be considered accurate since females are feminine and males masculine. Scent glands nevertheless clinch the misdescription’s enduring popularity since they look like male reproductive organs on females.

Paradox contrastingly communicates the essence of Asian common palm civet life cycles and natural histories. Super-adaptable cat-like behaviors, raccoon-like faces, and weasel-like bodies emphasize front and side views of Asian common palm civet physiques despite super-successful money-making endeavors involving what is least visible.

Importers expand the ubiquitous civet’s bio-geography for features that ultimately may threaten sustainability:
• attractive pelts;
• delicious meat;
• medicinal liquids;
• musky fragrances;
• vacated coffee.

Asian Common Palm Civet subspecies ~ Paradoxurus pallassii: depicted "From the Life in the Zoological Society's Gardens . . . tail partly deficient."

illustration by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (February 8, 1807 – January 27, 1894)
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology, Vol. II (1833-1834), Plate 8
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology, Vol. II (1833-1834), Plate 8


Binomial (“two-name”) classification accounts for the Asian common palm civet’s genus - species taxonomy as Paradoxurus hermaphroditus. Trinomial (“three-name”) nomenclature acknowledges insular, mainland, and peninsular homeland-based subspecies. The first specimen type to be described, the nominate (“first-named”), gets the species’ name repeated. P.h. hermaphroditus inhabits India (and Pakistan), per Peter Simon Pallas (September 22, 1741 – September 8, 1811) in 1777. Other India-specific subspecies include:

  • P.h. bondar (Anselme Gaëtan Desmarest [March 6, 1784 – June 4, 1838], 1820);
  • nictitatans (Edward Burnett Taylor [October 2, 1832 – January 2, 1917], 1891);
  • pallasii of Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal (John Edward Gray [February 12, 1800 – March 7, 1875], 1832);
  • scindiae and vellerosus (Reginald Innes Pocock [March 4, 1863 – August 9, 1947], 1934). 


Asian Common Palm Civet's subspecies: Paradoxurus hermaphroditus quadriscriptus, described by pioneer Indologist-Nepalogist Brian Houghton Hodgson (c. February 1, 1800/1801 – May 23, 1894) as native to Nepal's Hill Region ~

illustration by Joseph Wolf (January 21, 1820 – April 20, 1899); lithographic printing by M & N Hanhart
Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: Illustrations 1848-1860, Vol. I-Mammalia, Plate XLVIII
Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: Illustrations 1848-1860, Vol. I-Mammalia, Plate XLVIII


Indonesia claims:

  • balicus (Henri Jacob Sody [August 31, 1892 – January 16, 1959], 1933);
  • canescens (Marcus Ward Lyon [February 5, 1875 – May 19, 1942], 1907), enganus (1916);
  • javanica (Thomas Horsfield [May 12, 1773 – July 14, 1859], 1824);
  • kangeanus (Oldfield Thomas [February 21, 1858 – June 16, 1929], 1910);
  • lignicolor, parvus, simplex (Gerrit Smith Miller [December 6, 1869 – February 24, 1956], 1913);
  • setosus (Honoré Jacquinot [August 1, 1815 - 1887] and Jacques Pucheran [June 2, 1817 – January 13, 1894], 1853).

The republic co-hosts:

  • musanga (Thomas Stamford Raffles [July 6, 1781 – July 5, 1826], 1821) with Malaysia;
  • philippinensis (Antoine Jacques Jourdan [1788 - 1859], 1837) with Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines;
  • sumbanus (Ernst Schwarz [December 1, 1889 - 1962], 1910) with East Timor. 


Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) range ~

Green = native; Red = introduced
Distribution data from IUCN Red List
Distribution data from IUCN Red List


Myanmar constitutes another of the top Asian common palm civet native lands, with:

  • milleri (Cecil Boden Kloss (March 28, 1877 – August 19, 1949), 1908);
  • pallens, pugnax, pulcher, sacer, senex (Gerrit Smith Miller [December 6, 1869 – February 24, 1956], 1913).

The republic harbors:

  • laotum (August Louis Gyldenstolpe [July 22, 1849 – June 30, 1928], 1917) with China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam;
  • minor (John Lewis Bonhote [June 13, 1875 – October 10, 1922], 1903) with Malaysia, Thailand.

China hosts:

  • dongfangensis (Gordon Barclay Corbet [born 1933] and John Edwards Hill [June 11, 1928 - 1997], 1992);
  • exitus (Ernst Schwarz [December 1, 1889 - 1962], 1911).

Cambodia and Vietnam perpetuate cochinensis (Ernst Schwarz [December 1, 1889 - 1962], 1911). Thailand shelters canus (Miller, 1913).


Asian Palm Civet's marine ecosystem: Tioman Island, offshore from southeastern Peninsular Malaysia

Tioman Island (Malay language: Pulau Tioman)
Tioman Island (Malay language: Pulau Tioman)


Subtleties of color and dimension differentiate subspecies. Biology and taxonomy notwithstanding, they all claim elongated bodies with:

  • Brown, grey, tan, white, yellow coarse, shaggy coats black-tipped by guard-hairs;
  • Compact muscles;
  • Darkened paws;
  • Hairless soles;
  • Semi-fused third/fourth toes;
  • Short limbs;
  • 3 black-spotted rows per flank;
  • 20 semi-retractile claws.



Little heads commit to super-vigilance with:

  • Blackened, large, rounded, wide-spaced ears;
  • Camouflage-savvy faces blackened and whitened across foreheads, alongside nostrils, and under big-, dark-adapted eyes (equi-distanced from dark striping running from nasal bridge to shoulder blades);
  • Darkened, sculpted cheeks and muzzles;
  • Pointed, sharp dentition of 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars, 8 molars;
  • Super-sensory vibrissae (whiskers) atypically whitened from base to tip.  

Long tails remain undecorated other than darkened tips. 


Subtleties of coloring differentiate Asian Palm Civet's many subspecies.

Asian palm civet
Asian palm civet


Appearance, bio-geography, and comportment account for individual survival and population sustainability in optimal native niches and sub-optimal native and naturalized habitats. Asian common palm civets historically choose dense-canopy, primary-growth, vine-shrouded jungles and rainforests for:

  • Avoiding predatory mammals, raptors, and reptiles;
  • Consuming berries, fruits (especially apples, bananas, chiku, coffee, figs, mangos, melons, oranges, palms, pineapples, rambutan), sap, and seeds;
  • Denning in arboreal holes and hollows or terrestrial crevices and fissures;
  • Foraging for arthropods, eggs, and small amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles;
  • Organizing amidst towering evergreens overlapping home and territorial ranges of 0.77 square miles (2 square kilometers) per female and 6.67 square miles (17+ square kilometers) per male.  

But they know when to practice adaptability, antagonism, or avoidance. 


Feeding the Asian Palm Civets

Uploaded to YouTube on February 28, 2012 by Jay's Animal Encounters ~ URL:


Asian common palm civets center behaviors upon olfactory, tactile, and visual information-sharing. They employ vocalizations for alarm or attack. They fight bravely but rarely. They modify bio-geography and biology by:

  • Abandoning elusive, reclusive escape-artistry;
  • Redefining habitability.

They opt for:

  • Altitudes up to 7,874.02 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level;
  • Deciduous, evergreen, semi-evergreen forests of scrub vegetation, secondary growth, and selective logging;
  • Disturbed fragments near farming villages and palm-oil plantations.


impossibly adorable juvenile Asian Palm Civet

Kerala, Malabar coast, southwestern India
Kerala, Malabar coast, southwestern India


They prioritize:

  • Delivering 2 – 5 offspring bi-annually for seeing within 14 days and weaning within 90;
  • Maturing head-and-body lengths, tail lengths, and weights respectively to 16.93 – 27.95 inches (43.2 – 71 centimeters), 15.98 – 25.98 inches (40.6 – 66 centimeters), and 3 – 11 pounds (1.36 – 4.99 kilograms);
  • Surviving 5 – 20+ years. 


caged for Kopi Luwak production

one of the environments for the world's most expensive coffee
one of the environments for the world's most expensive coffee

Conclusion: Force-feedings and caged isolation challenge the Asian Common Palm Civet, a diminutive, bear-like ambler with an especially high value in the coffee trade


Savvy adjustment to real-time best describes Asian common palm civet life cycles and natural histories. It explains their surviving:

  • Beating, maiming, and slaughtering for homelessly, hungrily raiding poultry;
  • Exporting to Japan;
  • Resettling in Indonesia to suffer forced-feeding of coffee beans and forced-scraping of scent glands;
  • Trapping by agro-industrialists and over-hunters.

Diminutive Asian common palm civets indeed express courage and environmentalism while experiencing unregulated modernist - traditionalist interactions along urban - wildland interfaces. They keep on:

  • Ambling bear-like and flat-footed over land and branch-by-branch through trees;
  • Fulfilling environmentally obligate pest-controlling, seed-dispersing roles;
  • Rotating nomadically through wide-spaced series of permanent dens occupied singly except during offspring-raising.

Their stories need to be told and perpetuated through:

  • Governmental protection;
  • Scientific investigation;
  • Wildlife-loving activism. 


the world's most expensive coffee

Kopi Luwak
Kopi Luwak



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Asian Palm Civet native landscapes: Siliguri, in Himalayan foothills, is surrounded by forests, which facilitate city visits by wild animals.

Siliguri links mainland India to its northeastern states via Siliguri Corridor, known locally as Chicken Neck (Bengali: চিকেন নেক), a narrow strip of land bordered northwesterly by Nepal, northeasterly by Bhutan, and southerly by Bangladesh.
Siliguri, West Bengal state, eastern India
Siliguri, West Bengal state, eastern India

Sources Consulted


Arnold, Michael L. 2008. Reticulate Evolution and Humans: Origins and Ecology. Oxford University Press.

"Asian Palm Civet." A - Z Animals. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

“Asian Palm Civet.” The Animal Files: Mammals > Carnivores. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

"The Asian Palm Civet." Espresso & Coffee Guide. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

“Asian Palm Civet Pictures and Facts.” The Website of Everything: Animals > Mammals > Carnivora > Viverridae > Hemigalinae > Chrotogale. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Bell, D.; Roberton, S.; and Hunter, P. R. 2004. "Animal Origins of SARS Coronavirus: Possible Links with the International Trade in Small Carnivores." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biological Sciences 359:1107-1114.

Bisby, F.A.; Roskov, Y.R.; Orrell, T.M.; Nicolson, D.; Paglinawan, L.E.; Bailly, N.; Kirk, P.M.; Bourgoin, T.; Baillargeon, G.; and Ouvrard, D. (red.). 2011. "Chrotogale owstoni Thomas, 1912." Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2011 Annual Checklist. Reading, UK. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Boelens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; and Grayson, Michael. 2009. The Eponym Dictionary of Mammals. Johns Hopkins University. 

Boudet, Ch. 10 January 2009. "Species Sheet: Owston’s Banded Palm Civet, Owston’s Civet, Owston’s Palm Civet." Mammals' Planet: Vs n°4, 04/2010. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Cassell's Universal Portrait Gallery: A Collection of Portraits of Celebrities, English and Foreign. With Facsimile Autographs. 1895. London, Paris & Melbourne: Cassell and Company, Limited.

  • Available via Internet Archive at:

"Chrotogale owstoni (Owston's Civet)." ZipcodeZoo: Species Identifier 3132. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Chrotogale owstoni Thomas, 1912.” The Marine Biological Universal Biological Indexer and Organizer. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

"Civet Coffee." Espresso & Coffee Guide. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

"Common Palm Civet." Ecology Asia: Mammals of SE Asia. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Corbet, G.B.; and Hill, J.E. 1992. Mammals of the Indo-Malayan Region: A Systematic Review. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.

Driver, Stephanie (ed.). 2008. Exploring Mammals, Volume 3. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.

Duckworth, J.W.; Widmann P.; Custodio, C.; Gonzalez, J.C.; Jennings, A.; and Veron, G. 2008. "Paradoxurus hermaphroditus." In: IUCN 2014. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Duff, Andrew; and Lawson, Ann. 2004. Mammals of the World: A Checklist. Yale University Press.

Ewer, R.F. 1998. The Carnivores. Cornell University Press: Cornell Paperbacks.

Gaubert, P.; and Cordeiro-Estrela, P. 2006. “Phylogenetic Systematics and Tempo of Evolution of the Viverrinae (Mammalia, Carnivora, viverridae) within Feliformians: Implications for Faunal Exchanges between Asia and Africa.” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 41:266-278.

Gervais, Paul. 1855. Histoire naturelle des Mammifères: Carnivores, Proboscidiens, Jumentés, Bisulques, Édentés, Marsupiaux, Monotrèmes, Phoques, Sirénides et Cétacés. Paris: L. Curmer.

Gittleman, John L.; Funk, Stephan M.; Macdonald, David; and Wayne, Robert K. (eds.). 2001. Carnivore Conservation. Cambridge University Press: Conservation Biology 5.

Gray, John Edward. 1833 - 1834. Illustrations of Indian Zoology; Chiefly Selected from the Collection of Major-General Hardwicke. Vol. II. London: Adolphus Richter and Co. and Parbury, Allen and Co., MDCCCXXXIII - MDCCCXXXIV.

  • Available via Internet Archive at:

Hayssen, Virginia; Van Tienhoven, Ari; and Van Tienoven, Ans. Asdell’s Patterns of Mammalian Reproduction: A Compendium of Species-Specific Data. Cornell University, 1993.

Horsfield, Thomas, M.D. 1855. “Brief Notices of several new or little-known species of Mammalia, lately discovered and collected in Nepal by Brian Houghton Hodgson, Esq.” The Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Including Zoology, Botany, and Geology (Being a Continuation of the ‘Annals’ Combined with Loudon and Charlesworth’s ‘Magazine of Natural History’), Vol. XVI – Second Series: 101 – 114.

  • Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library at:

Horsfield, Thomas, M.D. 1856. “Catalogue of a Collection of Mammalia from Nepal, Sikim, and Tibet, presented to the Hon. East India Company by B.H. Hodgson, Esq., in 1853.” Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, Part XXIV: 393 - 406.

  • Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library at:

Hunter, Luke; and Barrett, Priscilla. 2011. A Field Guide to the Carnivores of the World. London, Cape Town, Sydney, Auckland: New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd.

Jennings, A. P.; and Veron, J. 2009. "Family Viverridae (Civets, Genets, and Oyans)." In: Don E. Wilson and Russel Mittermeier (Hrsg.) Handbook of the Mammals of the World Volume 1: Carnivores. Lynx Edicions.

Kondo, H.; Tesar, J.; Cloud, D.; Kagan, L. (eds.). 1972. Civets, Genets, and Linsangs, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. Milan: Fratelli Fabbri Editori.

Larivière, Serge. 2004. "Palm civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus Spanish: Musang." P. 344 in Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Second Edition. Volume 14: Mammals III, edited by Michael Hutchins, Devra G. Kleiman, Valerius Geist, and Melissa C. McDade. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, Inc., division of Thomson Learning Inc.

Lydekker, Richard. 1896. A Hand-Book to the Carnivora. Part I: Cats, Civets, and Mungooses. London: Lloyd’s Natural History. Edward Lloyd, Limited.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: 

"The Many Names of the Asian Palm Civet." Espresso & Coffee Guide. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Mathai, J. 2010. “Hose’s Civet: Borneo’s Mysterious Carnivore.” Night Watch 18(4):2-8.

Nelson, Jessica. 2013. “Paradoxurus hermaphroditus: Asian Palm Civet (On-line).” Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Newquay Zoo. 24 July 2009. “What’s an Owston’s Civet?” ZooBorns. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Nowak, Ronald M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Volume I. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 

“Owston’s Civet (Chrotogale owstoni).” ARKive: Species > Mammals. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

“Owston’s Civet, Owston’s Palm Civet.” World Association of Zoos and Aquariums: Visit the Zoo > Small Carnivores. Retrieved August 7, 2014.

  • Available at:

Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: Illustrations 1848-60. Vol. I Mammalia. Plates I - LXXXIII. London: Messrs. Longman, Green, Longmans, and Roberts; Paris and Leipzig: M.J. Rothschild.

  • Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library at:

Rabinowitz, A. 1991. "Behavior and Movements of Sympatric Civet Species in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand." Journal of Zoology 223/2:281-298.

Rozhnov, V.; Yu, V. 2003. "Roles of Different Types of Excretions in Mediated Communication by Scent Marks of the Common Palm Civet, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus Pallas, 1777 (Mammalia, Carnivora)." Biology Bulletin 30/6:584-590. 

Schreiber, A.; Wirth, R.; Riffel, M.; and Van Rompaey, H. 1989. Weasels, Civets, Mongooses, and Their Relatives. An Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.

Veron, Geraldine. 2010. “Phylogeny of the Viverridae and ‘Viverrid-like’ Feliforms.” Pp. 64-90 in Carnivoran Evolution: New Views on Phylogeny, Form and Function edited by Anjali Goswami and Anthony Friscia. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge Studies in Morphology and Molecules.

Wilson, Don E.; and Cole, F. Russell. 2000. Common Names of Mammals of the World. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Wilson, Don E.; and Reeder, DeeAnn M. (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), Johns Hopkins University Press.

Wrobel, Murray (Editor). 2007. Elsevier's Dictionary of Mammals: Latin English German French Italian. Oxford, U.K.: Elsevier B.V.


Asian Palm Civet's montane ecosystems: Temi Tea Garden, established in 1969 and converted to full organic tea estate between April 2005 to April 2008.

The tea estate is located at tourist town of Ravangla, South Sikkim district, northeast Indian State Sikkim. Distaste for tea impels Asian Palm Civet to avoid estates in their ecosystems.
"On a late afternoon at a tea garden"
"On a late afternoon at a tea garden"
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Mountain Jungle Eyes: green t-shirt ~ Available via Amazon

Jungle travelers may never know that they are being quietly watched by "invisible" jungle dwellers, such as Asian Common Palm Civets.
wildlife t-shirt

The Animal Book by DK Publishing

More than 1,500 specimens, each stunningly photographed. A "tree of life" greets readers at the beginning of the book, charting the complex and interconnected relationships between species.
Asian Palm Civets in books

Jungle Eyes: green t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

Jungle Eyes
Ad AllPosters

Walker's Carnivores of the World by Ronald W. Nowak,

This comprehensive guide, featuring 225 illustrations, covers the world's eight terrestrial families of carnivores, providing an up-to-date panorama of the world's carnivores.
mammal-themed books

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 11/13/2021, DerdriuMarriner
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login

You might also like

Masked Palm Civets (Paguma larvata): Non-Ringtails of North In...

Gem-faced masked civets have brown-grey bodies and tails. White-lined, white-...

Large Indian Civets (Viverra zibetha): Ringtails of Northern I...

Large Indian civets are bigger than small Indian civets. They live from east ...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...