Saturday, May 8, 2010

Civet Cat (Musang) in the Attic

There is a civet cat (Malay Musang; Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) that hangs out in our attic now.  He doesn't belong to us exclusively, however, but is shared with the neighbors.  After months of hearing noises up above at night, we had speculated that neighbor cats were somehow getting into the attic.  But one morning, I spied a strange-looking critter out the window, on the fence between our front yard and the neighbor's.  It was unlike anything that I had ever seen, but the words that came to mind were "civet cat".  A quick perusal of our little booklet Malaysian Mammals showed it to be either a Common Palm Civet (Musang pulut) or a Common House Civet (Musang tenggalong).  Although I opened the window to get a photo and ask his/her name, the musang did not stick around long enough for a chit-chat.  He climbed up onto my neighbor's roof quite adeptly.  Since then, my wife and I have seen him going across our front yard right about the same time (7am) as the first sighting.

Since we have no photos yet or our neighborhood musang, I am reduced to links to photos elsewhere on the internet.

Musang are not to be messed with since they are apparently a protected specie in Malaysia (under the Akta Perlindongan Hidupan Liar, 1972) and may have been the vector that carried the SARS virus in southern China a few years back.

They also apparently like chicken.  While contemplating the musang the other day, I realised that I had not seen my neighbor's chickens which used to run around his yard and the street in front.  It had been months since I remember seeing the birds, so common and unobtrusive they were.  But now, in reflection, I realised that they are gone, probably incorporated into civet cat biomass!

In Malay mythology, an evil spirt known as bajang takes the shape of a civet cat (aka polecat).  In an earlier post, I referenced a British author who had mentioned a game played by village children centering around the tree-climbing ability of musang (Winzeler, 1995).


Another interesting item about musang is that there is an expensive coffee (Kopi Luwak), which is made from coffee beans that have been passed through the digestive tract of the musang.  This coffee sells for upwards of US$450 per pound!  Cups of the coffee were first sold for US$33-100 per cup when it was first introduced to the western world!!






10 comments:

  1. you are very observant,if that is the correct expression.your story about "musang" reminds me about story of my mom.my mom said,musang make noise because they cry,they cry because either hungry or full. they are afraid they will die of hungry or their stomach will blow. of course I know it's not true,when I get older.but this story sticks to me till this day.

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  2. Cool pictures. There used to be a family of "musang" living up in my house attic. Made a hell of a noise early in the mornings, running about and fighting. Very elusive animal.

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  3. Hi, seems like we have a musang in the garden too. And on our roof. And the neighbors' balcony, just opposite our bedroom windows. It's not afraid, just sits there in the evening looking at us, and we look at him. It's fantastic to have wildlife in the garden! We've been living in Malaysia for a couple of years, but haven't ever seen a musang before.

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  4. Since posting this I have seen the musang three more times. Larger than a cat, it has a straight fluffy tail and a bandit mask like that of a raccoon. Very interesting critter. In Malaysia they are a protected species.

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  5. We also call Musang the Civet Cat here in the Philippines. What I like them is the Alamid Coffee, one of the most expensive coffee in the world.

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  6. Wow.your story is exactly the same as ours.we too heard strange noises in our roof at night.thinking it was cats or even perhaps rats we used to brush it off until I caught site of this fox flashing past the headlight of my car two times before.then a short while ago I saw it climbing down my neighbours rain pipe on the roof. And my electrician told me if found musang droppings on my roof.I suspect it is a Malaysian palm civet because of the colour.interesting

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  7. I am living in USJ 2, Subang Jaya. It really shocked me one night when I saw this type of musang climbing up the awning via a papaya tree that is grown near the awning which lies outside the bedroom and the mini library window.

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  8. if it turns into a person its a bajang o.o

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  9. I having this problem - running about at the roof attic and causing some problem to the lighting.. Is there anyway that we can catch it?

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  10. I once actually had one of this musang for pet. the indians used to hunt wild animals and sell them to a wildlife trader.
    I happen to own on of the babies and kept it for quite a while. i was only a young teenager and have no idea of animal conservation. it feed mainly fruits and meats. guess what, it grew very fast and eventually end up on the dinner table

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