If you slowly and silently walk through the forests of Tanay late at night and shine a light into the trees, high in the branches you may find an intelligent and agile teddy bear looking back at you – the Philippine Palm Civet, or “musang”.
Seeing a musang is a special treat, as there are very few “carnivores”, or meat-eating mammals, on the Philippines Islands. They are one of the more intelligent animals you can find, so usually they’ll see you before you see them! But sometimes they come around the farm looking for scraps or fruit to eat, and then you might get lucky and spot one in the dark.
A strange fact about civets is that they are part of the process of making coffee alamid, also known as “civet coffee”. Civets love to eat the red fruit of the coffee plant, and someone figured out that after the civet poops out the beans, its stomach juices have changed the flavors of the coffee! Coffee made from the coffee beans found in civet poop is one of the most expensive in the world. Unfortunately, in some places people have decided that instead than going through the hard work of collecting civet poop, they will keep civets in small cages and force feed them large amounts of coffee beans for an easy profit. A growing number of civets are being taken from the wild and abused in this manner.
Where do they live?
The Philippine Palm Civet is found in the forest, especially anywhere with fruit trees. It prefers large trees where it is able to climb high into the branches.
What do they eat?
They eat berries, fruit, mice, and insects
Are they dangerous?
The musang is not very dangerous and will not attack a human, but if captured it will bite and scratch you. This could lead to infection or possibly a disease like rabies, so it is much safer not to touch them at all. If a musang is coming near you or appears unafraid of humans, this is very strange behavior and could indicate that it is sick or has rabies, so it is better to stay away.
Are they in danger?
The Philippine Palm Civet is a common animal, though it is thought to be declining due to people catching them for the pet trade and for production of civet coffee.
What is their scientific name and classification?
The Philippine Palm Civet is scientifically known as Paradoxurus philippensis. It is a member of the Civet family, which are small, long-tailed carnivorous mammals related to mongooses and cats.
Some pictures of Philippine Palm Civets in Borneo
Can you stay quiet enough in the night to see a civet? Where did you see one?