Hemigalus derbyanusbanded palm civet

Geographic Range

Banded palm civets are found in the Oriental biogeographic region, in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and peninsular Burma. (Wilson and Reeder, 1993)


Banded palm civets are partly arboreal and prefer tall forests. They are nocturnal and feed mainly on the ground at night, sleeping in holes in the ground or in trees during the day. Hemigalus derbyanus are also known to forage for prey in trees and near streams. (Burton and Pearson, 1987; Ducker, 1975)

Physical Description

Hemigalus derbyanus are about the size of small domestic cats, with long slender bodies. This species ranges in length (nose to anus) from 46 to 53 centimeters. They have gray-yellow woolly hair with seven or eight crescent-shaped black markings on the dorsal side and black rings around their tails, which vary from 25 to 38 centimeters in length. Partially retractable claws and powerful feet allow banded palm civets to be very able climbers, and long tapered snouts assist in their feeding habits. They have 40 teeth with a dental pattern 3/3;1/1;4/4;2/2 common to most members of the Viverridae. Their molars are tritubercular. Both males and females of the species possess vestigial anal glands. Underparts of the body are lighter than the dorsal side, and the pelage in the dorsal neck region is reversed and points forward. (Burton and Pearson, 1987; Ducker, 1975; Kowalczyk, 1989; Lekagul and McNeely, 1977)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    1.0 to 3.0 kg
    2.20 to 6.61 lb
  • Range length
    46 to 53 cm
    18.11 to 20.87 in


Very little is known about the mating systems of banded palm civets as they tend to be reclusive and have low reproduction success in captivity. (Kowalczyk, 1989)

Of banded palm civets observed in captivity, very few have given birth, thus there is a small sample size from which to generalize. The females' estrus cycle is not easily identifiable, but scientists hypothesize that they may be seasonally polyestrus or generally polyestrus throughout the year with a 4 to 7 day cycle. Banded palm civets in captivity do not construct nests and give birth to 1 or 2 young, which weigh about 125 grams. They open their eyes after 8 to 12 days and nurse for about 70 days before eating solid food. In the family Viverridae, of which Hemigalus derbyanus is a member, there are generally two litters per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The gestation period ranges from 32 to 64 days among all of the species of this family. ("Hemigalus derbyanus", 1997; Kowalczyk, 1989)

  • Breeding interval
    The breeding interval of banded palm civets is unknown.
  • Breeding season
    The breeding season is unknown.
  • Average number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average weaning age
    70 days

Although little is known regarding the mating habits of banded palm civets, the relatively long nursing period of the female (about 70 days) suggests that large amounts of energy are required and thus feeding must increase during the pregnancy and following the birth of her young. Male contribution is unknown. ("Hemigalus derbyanus", 1997)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female


Very little is known regarding the lifespan of Hemigalus derbyanus in the wild. In captivity, individuals 11 to 13 years old lacked all teeth, suggesting advanced age. (Kowalczyk, 1989)


Hemigalus derbyanus is a solitary species, with males and females associating only for mating. As is discussed in the Communication section, scent markings play an important role in territorial and defensive communication among individuals. (Kowalczyk, 1989)

Home Range

The home range of banded palm civets is unknown.

Communication and Perception

Banded palm civets observed in captivity have been known to communicate through scent marking, physical interaction and vocalizations. Both defensive and territorial scent marking have been observed in this species. Social behavior includes grooming and pacing, and a keen sense of smell plays a role in identification among individuals. Vocal communication is prevalent in captivity and includes hissing, spitting, cooing, whining and growling. (Kowalczyk, 1989)

Food Habits

Banded palm civets are primarily carnivores, hunting for prey in trees, near streams or on the forest floor. Much of their diet consists of locusts and worms, but they also eat crustaceans, aquatic and terrestrial snails, spiders, ants and frogs. In captivity, the species has been observed to eat fruit, including bananas, but plant consumption is unknown in the wild. (Ducker, 1975; Kowalczyk, 1989)

Hemigalus derbyanus catches larger prey by biting it at the back of the neck and then shaking it violently. Their front paws help to grasp the prey while tearing and chewing it, and they swallow with their heads tilted upwards. Often, drinking precedes and follows eating. (Kowalczyk, 1989)

  • Animal Foods
  • amphibians
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • mollusks
  • terrestrial worms
  • aquatic crustaceans


The predators of banded palm civets have not been identified.

Ecosystem Roles

Ecosystem roles of Hemigalus derbyanus have not been explored. As small carnivores, they might have some effect on prey populations. Also, as mammals that consume large numbers of insects such as locusts, they might have some positive impact on agriculture by reducing pest numbers.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The economic importance of banded palm civets is relatively insignificant, although some members of the Viverridae family are trapped or bred in captivity to procure their civet, a potent fluid obtained from the anal glands which is often used in perfumes.

  • Positive Impacts
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Information on the negative impact of Hemigalus derbyanus is not available.

Conservation Status

This species is not listed as threatened or endangered on any official sites, but recent research suggests that banded palm civets are increasingly rare in their native habitats and decreasing in numbers due to deforestation and habitat loss. (Lekagul and McNeely, 1977)


Matthew Wund (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Kari Santoro (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



uses sound to communicate


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


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.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


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.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year


John Hopkins University Press. 1997. "Hemigalus derbyanus" (On-line). Walker's Mammals of the World Online. Accessed February 10, 2004 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/carnivora/carnivora.viverridae.hemigalus.html.

Burton, J., B. Pearson. 1987. The Collins Guide to the Rare Mammals of the World. Lexington, MA: Stephen Greene Press.

Ducker, G. 1975. Viverrids and Aardwolves. Pp. 144-184 in B Grzimek, ed. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. Volume 12; Mammals III, 1st Edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.

Kowalczyk, C. 1989. Behavioral observations of the banded palm civet (Hemigalus derbyanus) in captivity. Zoologische Garten, 59 (4): 264-274.

Lekagul, B., J. McNeely. 1977. Mammals of Thailand. Kurusapha Ladprao: Association for the Conservation of Wildlife.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 1993. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.