Sulawesi palm civets are found only on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Verified range on the island includes the end of the Minahassa peninsula, the east peninsula, the southeast peninsula, and a small section of central Sulawesi. Few sighting or specimens have been recorded from central and southern Sulawesi. (Lee, et al., 2003; Wemmer and Watling, 1986)
- Other Geographic Terms
- island endemic
Sulawesi palm civets preferred habitat is primary growth rain forest. Evidence suggests these civets are equally prevalent across elevations within its range. These habitats include upper montane rain forest and cloud forest, lower montane rain forest, and lowland rain forest. Sulawesi civets are also associated with farms, where they seek out chicken coops. (Schreiber, et al., 1989; Wemmer and Watling, 1986)
- Other Habitat Features
- Range elevation
- 0 to 2600 m
- 0.00 to 8530.18 ft
Sulawesi civets posses a soft, short, fine coat with brown coloration on the back and yellow brown coloration on the under parts. The breast may have a reddish tint. Vague darker spots are arranged along the back in two vertical rows on either side of the spine. Between seven and eleven light yellowish tail rings can also be present, but may be incomplete or irregularly spaced. The tip of the tail is darker. The face is brown with paler zones of hair around the eyes, in the ears, and along the upper lip. (Lydekker, 1896; Wemmer, et al., 1983)
Very few living specimens have been measured. The data presented here are based on two female specimens and one male. Body lengths for these females were 650 mm plus a 480 mm tail and 680 mm with a broken tail 445 mm long. Male body length was 715 mm with a 540 mm tail. Despite having a common name of “giant civet,” they are not unusually large for a civet, being similar in size to masked palm civets. They are, however, the largest wild carnivore on Sulawesi Females have a perineal scent gland behind their genetalia, but males seem to lack a perineal scent gland. The female gland characteristics are similar to those of masked palm civet. The only other taxa of palm civets in which males lack a scent gland is the genus Arctogalidia. Upper and lower cheek teeth run parallel rather than diverging towards the back. (Lydekker, 1896; Wemmer, et al., 1983)
Molecular evidence shows that Sulawesi civets are actually in the subfamily Hemigalinae instead of Paradoxurinae where they have been historically grouped. Its morphological similarities to the Paradoxurines are due to convergence. This puts Sulawesi civets closest relative as the otter civet. (Wilting and Fickel, 2012)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- male larger
- Range mass
- 3.85 to 6.1 kg
- 8.48 to 13.44 lb
- Range length
- 1130 to 1255 mm
- 44.49 to 49.41 in
The reproductive biology of these civets has yet to be studied.
Reproductive behavior of this little known viverrid is still unknown. It is likely similar to other civets, but because Sulawesi civets are monotypic in its genus and possibly grouped in the wrong subfamily it is difficult to compare them to other species. In general, other civets have one to two litters of one to three young per year, with a gestation period of 30 to 60 days. Time to sexual maturity is about one year. (Wemmer and Watling, 1986; Wilting and Fickel, 2012)
- Key Reproductive Features
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- The breeding interval for Sulawesi civets is unknown.
- Breeding season
- The mating season for Sulawesi civets is unknown.
Females care for the young and have two pairs of nipples. It is possible that mother and young share some territory. It is unlikely that males participate in parental care, but this is not known for sure. (Wemmer and Watling, 1986; Wemmer, et al., 1983)
- Parental Investment
- female parental care
Lifespan of the Sulawesi civet is unknown. Other civets have lifespans of 5 to 20 years.
The Sulawesi civet is solitary and nocturnal. It is a highly skilled climber and specializes in arboreal foraging. It has semi-retractable claws, quick reflexes, flexible feet, and a mobile tail for balance and bracing. It spends more time on the ground than some related species, like the binturong and African palm civet. (Wemmer and Watling, 1986)
The length of time between visits to a particular site (5 to 10 days) by individual Sulawesi civets suggests that they maintain a large home range, similar to the 150 hectare range of African civets. (Wemmer and Watling, 1986)
Communication and Perception
Unlike Malay civets, Sulawesi palm civets do not make latrines to mark territory with repeated defecation in the same place. They do leave scratch markings on trees 2 m or so from the ground. Females have a perineal scent gland, most likely for within species communication. (Wemmer and Watling, 1986; Wemmer, et al., 1983)
Sulawesi palm civets are omnivores, subsisting on a variety of animal prey and fruits. Scat analysis showed small rodents and birds to be the highest content, but fruits probably provide a larger portion of the diet and are more completely digested. Prey attributed to Sulawesi palm civets include the Sulawesi cuscus, piglets of the Sulawesi warty pig, various members of the 28 species of rodents found on Sulawesi, chickens, and megapodes including Macrodephalon maleo, as well as bird eggs. When consuming a bird, the Sulawesi civet eats the entire animal, including most of the feathers and the feet. In its fugivorus capacity, Sulawesi palm civets are more of a specialist on palm fruits than the Malay civet. Additional fruit foods include cultivated bananas and papayas. Grass was also found in scats, probably eaten for its fibrous benefits. (Wemmer and Watling, 1986)
- Animal Foods
- Plant Foods
As the largest native predator on Sulawesi, this civet does not have conspicuous anti-predator adaptions. Number killed by humans and other mortality statistics are unknown.
- Known Predators
- humans (Homo sapiens)
These civets are good dispersers of seeds given their preference for palm fruits and the large range of forest types they are found in on Sulawesi. They are also an important predator as the largest mammalian carnivore on the island. (Corlett, 2007; Wemmer and Watling, 1986)
- Ecosystem Impact
- disperses seeds
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
There is evidence that Sulawesi palm civets are sometimes eaten if caught accidentally. Their pelts are sometimes kept as trophies if killed raiding livestock or caught accidentally. They have no great economic value to humans and is not specifically sought out. Sulawesi palm civets could be considered a pest controller, because of the large portion of rodents in their diet. (Wemmer and Watling, 1986)
- Positive Impacts
- controls pest population
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Sulawesi palm civets are known to raid chicken coops. (Wemmer and Watling, 1986)
- Negative Impacts
- crop pest
Population estimates are difficult because of data limitations and their reclusive nature. The lower elevation forest habitat of the Sulawesi civet is at risk from extensive logging. The high elevation forest is less at risk due to the difficulty of access for humans. Some suggest that these civets could be at risk from hunting, but the native peoples of Sulawesi do not harvest civets due to their distasteful perineal gland. When hunting does occur it takes place in the lowland range of the civet. Sulawesi civets live in several protected areas: including The Dumoga Bone National Park, Gunung Ambang Reserve, Tangkoko-Batuangas Reserve, Lore Lindu Reserve, and Morowali Reserve. (Brooks, et al., 1999; Corlett, 2007; Schreiber, et al., 1989; Wemmer and Watling, 1986)
Sarah Meierotto (author), University of Alaska Fairbanks, Laura Prugh (editor), University of Alaska Fairbanks, Laura Podzikowski (editor), Special Projects.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
- female parental care
parental care is carried out by females
an animal that mainly eats fruit
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
- island endemic
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
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Wilting, A., J. Fickel. 2012. Phylogenetic relationship of two threatened endemic viverrids from the Sunda Islands, Hose's civet and the Sulawesi civet. Journal of Zoology, 288/3: 184-190. Accessed December 08, 2012 at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2012.00939.x/pdf.