Sunday, December 30, 2012


Order Carnivora

This order contains many of the carnivorous mammals, like cats, civets, hyenas, mongooses, dogs, bears, skunks, weasels, raccoons and now also the pinnipeds. Pinnipeds, i.e. seals, sealions and walrus, used to be in their own order Pinnipeda.

There are 7 carnivores (or carnivorans) in Singapore - 4 civets, 2 otters and 1 cat.

Civets (Family Viverridae)

Civets are sometimes called civet cats. However, they are not cats. They are more related to hyenas and mongooses. The Short-tailed Mongoose (Herpestes brachyurus) is already extirpated in Singapore.

There are 4 species of civets in Singapore. The civet one is likely to encounter is the Common Palm Civet. Three-striped Palm Civet (Arctogalidia trivirgata), Indian Palm Civet (Viverra zibetha) and Malay Civet (Viverra tangalunga) are rare. The others - Binturong, Masked Palm Civet, Large-spotted Civet and Otter Civet - are extirpated in Singapore.

Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus)

It can be found in plantations and forested areas.

Kembangan ©Ben Lee

Pasir Panjang ©Eddy Lee

Three-striped Palm Civet (Arctogalidia trivirgata)

Also known as Short-toothed Palm Civet, it can be found in forested areas.

Malaysia ©Lau JS

Malay Civet (Viverra tangalunga)

It was thought to be extirpated in Singapore until it was rediscovered in 20121.

Malaysia ©Con Foley

Otters (Subfamily Lutrinae)

Otters are aquatic carnivores belonging to the weasel family (Family Mustelidae). They have a streamline body and are at ease in water. There are 13 species in the world and 2 can be found in Singapore - Smooth Otter and Asian Small-clawed Otter. The third - Hairy-nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana) - is extinct in Singapore. They feed mainly on fish, shellfish and crustaceans. They prefer mangroves.

Smooth Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)

Also known as the Smooth-coated Otter, it is so called due to the fur that gives it a smooth look. It is larger than the Small-clawed Otter. Up to 15 have been spotted at Pulau Punggol in 2012. Some other places they can be found are Botanic Gardens, Kallang River, Lower Seletar, Pasir Ris Park, Pulau Ubin, Sungei Buloh, Sungei Serangoon.

Smooth Otters at Sungei Buloh: ©Eddy Lee. ©Lau SY

Smooth Otter, Lorong Halus Smooth Otter, Lorong Halus
Smooth Otter family at Lorong Halus ©Tan KH

Smooth Otters feeding at Pasir Ris Park ©Tan KH

Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus)

Also known as Oriental Small-clawed Otter, it is the smallest of the otters. It has been sighted at Pulau Tekong and Pulau Ubin.

Singapore Zoo ©Tan KH

Cats (Family Felidae)

Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)

The Leopard Cat is the only remaining native feline in Singapore, but it is rare. It has been sighted on very rare occasions at Bukit Timah, Central Catchment and Pulau Tekong. The other felines used to be found in Singapore - Tiger, Leopard, Clouded Leopard and Flat-headed Cat - are extirpated.

Malaysia ©Con Foley


1. Occurrence of the Malay Civet, Viverra tangalunga (Mammalia: Carnvora: Viverridae) in Singapore

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