Masked Palm Civet

Paguma larvata

Click to view a larger image. Click to view a larger image. mammal mammal

Museum specimen featured in the Wild exhibition
Source: Museum Victoria

Masked Palm Civet
Image: I. R. Beames
Source: Ardea

Type: mammal

Masked Palm Civet Masked Palm Civet
Image: I. R. Beames
Source: Ardea

Conservation Status

Secure Vulnerable Endangered Extinct  ]

Masked Palm Civets are sometimes killed for their meat. In Southern China, hunting has reduced populations significantly. They are still common in other parts of their large range. Deforestation reduces the habitat available to these animals, however they can live in disturbed environments such as plantations.



Masked Palm Civets are omnivores.

They eat fruit, roots, small mammals, birds and insects.


Masked Palm Civet relative size depiction as described below

Size relative to a cat and a woman.

3.6–5 kg
body 50–76 cm,
tail 50–64 cm

Amazing Masked Palm Civets

Masked Palm Civets are tree-dwelling animals that are widespread across the Indomalay region. They superficially resemble cats but they are only distantly related, belonging instead to a more primitive group of carnivores that have changed little for 50 million years.

The short fur of Masked Palm Civets can be greyish, brownish or orange. They have black ears and feet and bold white stripes on their faces. They have a long, lithe body, small rounded ears and a pointed snout with a pink nose.

Despite their carnivore ancestry, Masked Palm Civets are mostly vegetarians. Fruit makes up the major part of their diet but they also hunt small animals. Their retractable claws make them excellent tree climbers.

Both males and females have four scent glands beneath their tails, which are used to deter predators by squirting a foul-smelling secretion when disturbed. It is thought that their ‘mask’ warns predators about their noxious glands.

Adult Masked Palm Civets live a solitary life. They sleep in temporary nests in trees during the day and are active at night, sometimes roaming up to 2 km. Baby civets are born in litters of up to four, and reach full size at three months old. Females may have two litters a year.

Did You Know?

Masked Palm Civets

  • have a bold black and white ‘mask’ on their faces
  • look a little like cats, but are only distantly related to them
  • can squirt a foul-smelling substance when alarmed


Masked Palm Civet distribution map

Masked Palm Civets are found across south-east Asia from the Himalayas to Indonesia. They live in forests but are also found near towns and agricultural areas.


Other animals from Indomalay

Indian PeafowlLuzon Bleeding-heartJavan RhinocerosIndian Rhinoceros