Banded civet (Hemigalus derbyanus)

Also known as: banded musang, banded palm civet, Hardwick's civet
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCarnivora
FamilyViverridae
GenusHemigalus (1)
SizeHead-tail length: 41 - 51.5 cm (2)
Weight1 - 3 kg (2)

The banded civet is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).

The banded civet (Hemigalus derbyanus) is a cat-like carnivore (5), with sharp, retractable claws (6). It typically has a buff-coloured coat with broad, dark bands along its back and the base of its tail (2). A narrow stripe passes from its nose to the nape of its neck, with two broader bands either side which surround the eyes and extend past the ears. The hairs of the coat point backwards, except on the back of the neck where they point forwards (6).

Coat colour varies between individuals, and the banded civet may be beige, grey or yellow, usually with paler underparts, and bands of either dark brown or chestnut (7) (8). It was once thought that this colour variation could be used to distinguish between subspecies; however, coat colour does not vary consistently between geographical locations (7). Three subspecies have been described: Hemigalus derbyanus minor, Hemigalus derbyanus sipora and Hemigalus derbyanus derbyanus, however only H. d. minor has been formally acknowledged (1).

Although the banded civet is a locally rare species, it is quite widespread, ranging from south Burma, through the Malay Peninsula (2) to Borneo and Sumatra (9). It may also be found in the Mentawai Islands (2).

Little is known about the preferred habitat of the banded civet. In general, most civet species are typically found in forest, brush, savanna or mountain habitats (8). The banded civet has been observed in both primary rainforest and disturbed habitats, up to elevations of 1,200 metres (1). It is an agile and graceful climber (6), but spends the majority of its time on the ground (1).

The word ‘civet’ is derived from an Arabic word, ‘zabad’, which is the name of an oily fluid secreted from the scent glands of most members of the family Viverridae (8). Many civet species use scent marking as a means of territory defence (10).

Like most civet species, the banded civet is nocturnal, which is likely to be an adaptation to avoid larger mammalian predators and raptors which are active during the day (11) (12). Members of the Viverridae family are known to spend much of the day sheltering from predators in tree holes, tangles of vines, caves, burrows and even man-made objects (6).

Although the banded civet does sometimes feed on fruit, the majority of its diet is made up of invertebrates (11) (13).

All species of civet typically give birth to one or two young and may have up to two litters per year (6), with a relatively long nursing period of approximately 70 days (8). Although there is little information on the reproductive behaviour of the banded civet in the wild, there have been some observations made in captivity. The young are born barely able to crawl, with folded ears and closed eyes which take 8 to 12 days to open (3). To transport the young, the female will pick them up and carry them in her mouth (14). In captivity, the young have been seen walking after 18 days, and after 4 weeks were observed climbing a tree in the enclosure with the female. After 10 weeks they became much more independent and began foraging for themselves. During the first two months of life, young banded civets in captivity have been observed emitting high-pitched cries, and producing a hacking cough when disturbed (3).

It is not known if the banded civet is a solitary species; however, the related palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) is known to be solitary, with the male and female only coming together to breed. Young female palm civets will remain in the range of the adult female until they mature at two years of age (15), and it is possible that the banded civet may behave in a similar way.

The foremost threat to the banded civet is habitat loss and degradation (1), and studies in Borneo have shown that banded civet numbers are significantly lower in logged forests than in primary forests (16).

Hunting is also a threat to this species as it is largely terrestrial and therefore more likely to be caught in traps and snares than other civet species. Expansion of human settlements has led to conflict with the banded civet as it will sometimes prey upon livestock such as chickens, and in some areas such as Sarawak it is hunted for food (1).

The oily fluid secreted by civets when scent-marking has, in the past, been refined and used in the perfume industry, with the animals kept in poor conditions. It has also been used in the medical industry to reduce perspiration and to treat some skin disorders. This practice is not as common now due to the development of synthetic chemical alternatives; however, it is still quite prevalent in poorer economic communities (8).

The banded civet is protected in some countries throughout its range, including Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia and Myanmar. In addition, it is known to occur within several national parks and reserves, including Mount Kinabalu National Park in Borneo, Temengor Forest Reserve in Malaysia and Similajau National Park in Sarawak (1).

It is also listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), so trade in this species is restricted (4).

For more information on the conservation of civets and other small carnivores:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Burton, J.A. & Pearson, B. (1987) The Collins Guide to Rare Mammals of the World. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London.
  3. Louwmann, J.W.W. (1970) Breeding the Banded palm civet and the Banded linsang: at Wassenaar Zoo. International Zoology Yearbook,10: 81-82.
  4. CITES (August, 2011)
    http://www.cites.org/
  5. Agnarsson, I., Kuntner, M., May-Collado, L.J. (2010) Dogs, cats, and kin: a molecular species-level phylogeny of Carnivora. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 54: 726-745.
  6. Walker, E.P. (1964) Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore.
  7. Veron, G., Laidlaw, R., Rosenthal, S.H., Streicher, U. & Roberton, S. (2004) Coat colour variation in the banded palm civet Hemigalus derbyanus and in Owston’s civet Chrotogale owstoni. Mammal Review,34: 307-310.
  8. MacDonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  9. Gotch, A.F. (1979) Mammals – Their Latin Names Explained. Blandford Press, Dorset.
  10. Johnson, R.P. (1973) Scent marking in mammals. Animal Behaviour, 21: 521-535.
  11. Heydon, M.J. & Bulloh, P. (2009) The impact of selective logging on sympatric civet species in Borneo. Oryx, 30: 31-36.
  12. Joshi, A.R., Smith, J.L.D. & Cuthbert, F.J. (1995) Influence of food distribution and predation pressure on spacing behaviour in palm civets. Journal of Mammology, 76: 1205-1212.
  13. Friscia, A.R., Van Valkenburgh, B. & Biknevicius, A.R. (2006) An ecomorphological analysis of extant small carnivores. Journal of Zoology, 272: 82-100.
  14. Ewer, R.F. (1973) The Carnivores. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London.
  15. Waser, P.M. & Jones, W.T. (1983) Natal philopatry among solitary mammals. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 58: 355-390.
  16. Veron, G., Gaubert, P., Franklin, N., Jennings, A.P. & Grassman Jr, L.I. (2006) A reassessment of the distribution and taxonomy of the Endangered otter civet Cynogale bennettii (Carnivora: Viverridae) of South-east Asia. Oryx, 40: 42-49.