Small-toothed Palm Civet (Arctogalidia trivirgata)


HB: 432-532; T: 510-660; HF: 75-95; E: 42-50; W: 2-2.5kg.

This small species of civet is also called the Three-striped Palm Civet. It occurs in primary rainforest and adjacent secondary forest, is nocturnal and almost exclusively arboreal. Its fur colour is predominantly greyish (sometimes reddish-brown), becoming paler and somewhat yellowish around the neck and on the belly. Its facial fur is black, but in some specimens or populations there is a narrow pale stripe on the forehead.  Three dark stripes, or rows of broken spots, extend from the neck to the base of the tail : these may be hard to see when the animal is in profile. Its tail is dark, longer than its head-body length, and somewhat prehensile. Only the female as scent glands ( both sexes have scent glands in other  Paradoxurinae. The female as two pair of mammae. The skull as a very long postorbital process, although they do not form a complete bony orbits as in the mongooses; the zygomatic arch rises sharply to form part of the lower rim of the orbit. The sagittal crest is very low and incomplete in some individuals indicating relatively little development of the masseter muscles controlling the  light mandible, but the occipital crests are well developed and form a right angle with each other when viewed from the rear. The muzzle is narrow, but widens slightly directly above the canines.

Range Description:

The small-toothed palm civet range covers parts of the Sundaic region and northern Southeast Asia. It is currently known to occur in Cambodia (Walston and Duckworth 2003), Lao PDR (Duckworth 1997b; Johnson pers. comm.), Borneo (Malaysia) (Duckworth 1997a, Wells et al. 2005, Belden et al. 2007), Thailand (Rabinowitz 1991, Conforti 1996, Duckworth and Nettelbeck in press), Viet Nam (Borissenko et al. 2004, Long and Minh Hoang 2006), Indonesia (Java: Suyanto 2003; Sumatra: Holden 2006; Kalimantan), and Peninsular Malaysia (Ratnam et al. 1995).

This species was recorded from Kadan Kyun Island off the coast of Myanmar in the early part of the twentieth century (Meiri 2005), no surveys using methodology suitable for this species have been conducted in other areas in Myanmar, where it was historically recorded quite widely (Than Zaw et al. in press); a record of a released animal in the outskirts of Yangon (Su 2005) suggests populations are still extant in the country. Given the extent of remaining suitable habitat, it is likely that Myanmar supports large populations. It was first recorded in Cambodia from Keo Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area (150 masl) in 2003, confirming previously inferred extension of the species range into this country. Duckworth (1997b) reports that this species is widespread in south and central Lao PDR; there has been no suitable survey carried out in the country north of approximately 19°N. In Thailand there are many records in protected areas (Duckworth and Nettelbeck in press). The current status of this species in China is unclear, as no proper spotlighting surveys have been conducted and nothing can be inferred on its status (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). There is a record of a skin collected from Darjeeling, India by Dr. Steward in 1856, although there seem to have been no recent confirmed records from this region. Pocock (1939) gave several records for India. The type locality of A. t. millsi is Mokokchung in the Naga hills (26°20′N, 94°32′E). This species has been reported by Suyanto (2003) from Gunung Halimun, West Java, and there are records from the 1930s from Gunung Gede National Park and Ujung Kulon National Park in Java (see Schreiber et al. 1989). However, it is unknown whether these populations are still extant (Meijaard pers. comm.). It is also presumed to occur still in Indonesian Borneo and Brunei. Current status in Bangladesh is unclear but suitable habitat remains in the northern and eastern hill tracts. Reliance on recent records to define its current distribution will produce an underestimate because the species is readily overlooked by conventional survey techniques (Duckworth and Nettelbeck in press).
Countries: Native:
Bangladesh; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia (Jawa, Kalimantan, Sumatera); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak); Myanmar; Singapore; Thailand; Vietnam


Very few surveys using appropriate methodology have been carried out through much of its range, thus the small-toothed palm civet population trend is unclear. Past authors have noted this as a rare species, however, as pointed out by several authors, the paucity of record reflects the arboreal, nocturnal habits of this species (Pocock 1939; van Bummed 1952; Duckworth 1997a; Duckworth and Nettelbeck in press). Therefore, the species is not found by any conventional survey method other than spot-lighting, and the latter is rarely carried out in most places. In one exception with extensive spotlighting in Lao PDR, the species was found, often commonly, in most semi-evergreen and evergreen forests surveyed in the southern two–thirds of the country in the 1990s (Duckworth 1997b). The great paucity of camera-trap photographs reflects the rarity of the species coming to ground, as has been shown by its Neotropical ecological analogue, the Kinkajou (Schipper 2007). Hence, several well camera-trapped areas have failed to record the species (Seima Biodviersity Conservation Area, Cambodia, Walston and Duckworth 2003; Cat Tien, Viet Nam, Borissenko et al. 2004; Khao Yai NP, Thailand, Duckworth and Nettelbeck in press; Sarawak Planted Forests Concession, Borneo, Belden et al. 2007); yet when even quite modest levels of spot-lighting have taken place in these areas, the species has been found, sometimes even exceptionally commonly (e.g. ten animals in the first three hours at Sarawak Planted Forests Concession; Belden et al. 2007). It is a reasonable inference, therefore, that the species is not just locally common, but widely numerous.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology:

The small-toothed palm civet is nocturnal and strongly arboreal (Pocock 1939; van Bemmel 1952; Duckworth 1997a; Duckworth and Nettelbeck in press). Although consumption of a wide range of animals has been recorded, this species is primarily frugivorous (Harrison 1962; Payne 1995; Duckworth and Nettelbeck in press). It likely breeds throughout the year, and there may be two litters per year, with two to three young in each litter (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). The lifespan of this species is 10 to 12 years (Lekagul and McNeely 1977).  In Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand, the small-toothed palm civet is found in evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, including degraded areas provided some contiguity of canopy remains; elevation range extends up to at least 1200 m (Duckworth et al. 1999; Duckworth and Nettelbeck in press). In the Sundaic part of its range, it inhabits evergreen rainforest and possibly others forest types (Payne et al. 1985; Duckworth 1995; Payne 1995; Wells et al. 2005; Holden 2006; Belden et al. in 2007). It was recorded from lowland, mature semi-evergreen forest surrounded by disturbed secondary growth in Vietnam in 2003 (Borissenko et al. 2004). All Bornean civets (except Diplogale hosei) have been recorded in disturbed forest areas, though abundance declines in this habitat (Heydon and Bulloh 1996).
Systems: Terrestrial

 Major Threat(s):

Habitat loss and degradation are a major threat to the small-toothed palm civet (Schreiber et al. 1989). Deforestation has led to the decline of this species in Thailand (Lekagul and McNeely 1977), and in Borneo, the overall density of civets (including the small-tooth palm civet) in logged forests was found to be significantly lower than in primary forests (Heydon and Bulloh 1996). Nevertheless, forest loss in Northern Southeast Asia is not enough to drive declines even at rates sufficient for NT status, and its wide altitudinal range in the Sundaic region (to 1500 m; Payne et al. 1985) means that while lowland populations have been and are continuing to decline, those occupying the higher altitudinal range are not declining as rapidly. This species is hunted (Walston and Duckworth 2003) and there has been an increased demand for civet meat in Chinese and Vietnamese markets (Bell et al. 2004; Lynam et al. 2005).  Given that this species is arboreal and nocturnal in nature, it is one of the least affected by current high levels of hunting in Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, government gun confiscation programs enacted during the 1990s were thought to result in a decrease in hunting by locals; however, the removal of guns has resulted in an upsurge in snaring and other trapping practices. As a result, there has been increased trapping of small carnivores overall, particularly nocturnal species and those that reside on the ground. As the small-toothed palm civet is arboreal, snares and other ground-level traps do not pose a major threat in this region (Walston and Duckworth 2003). Active night hunting appears to be the only effective means of hunting this civet and, as this is labour-intensive, is rarely undertaken for arboreal mammals in most of this species' range (Walston and Duckworth 2003). In Lao PDR, Vietnam and Myanmar, spotlight hunting does occur, but again the impact on this species is minimal as hunters focus on taking higher market value ungulates and concentrate for these almost exclusively at ground level (Walston and Duckworth 2003).

 Conservation Actions:

 This small-toothed palm civet is Totally Protected in Peninsular Malaysia, but only Protected in Sabah and Sarawak under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 (WPA 1972). In Thailand this species is protected, while it is not in Vietnam or Cambodia (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop 2006). The subspecies A. t. trilineata from Java has been classified as ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN (IUCN Red List, 1994) and as ‘Threatened’ in the IUCN Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids (Schreiber et al., 1989).  Given the patchiness of suitable surveys for this species, it is important to note that many large protected areas have been established in northern Southeast Asian evergreen and semi-evergreen forest and presumably support the species. Some protected areas where the species occurs are listed as follows. Extensive conservation measures with reasonably effective law enforcement in Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam have ensured that there has been no logging for the past two decades and little or no hunting pressure (Borissenko et al. 2004). The small-toothed palm civet has been confirmed in a total of six protected areas in Vietnam (Roberton in prep), and many protected areas in Lao PDR (Duckworth 1997b). This species was recorded from Tawau Hills National Park in Borneo in 2003-04 (Wells et al. 2005), from Temengor Forest Reserve in Malaysia by Ratnam et al. (1995), and from Keo Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area in Cambodia in 2003 (Walston and Duckworth, 2003). Further studies would allow a better understanding of habitat requirements and ecology.