Brown Palm Civet, Paradoxurus jerdoni

The brown palm civet (Paradoxurus jerdoni), also known as Jerdon’s palm civet, is native to the Western Ghats in India. Its range is relatively small, extending from Castle Rock in Goa south to the Western Ghats in Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. The Sulawesi palm civet is sometimes referred to as the brown palm civet because it is brown, but it is a distinct species. The brown palm civet holds two recognized subspecies.

The brown palm civet is around the same size as the common palm civet, with males reaching an average body length between 1.3 and 2 feet, with a weight between 7.9 and 9.4 pounds. Its fur is brown across its entire body, although it is darker on the legs, shoulder, neck, and head. The subspecies of the brown palm civet can vary in color from pale brown to dark brown. Occasionally the tail of this species can have a slightly yellow tip. This species can be distinguished by the fur on the nape of the neck, which grows in reverse.

The brown palm civet is nocturnal and solitary in nature, and sleeps in trees during the day. It can be seen resting in tree hollows, forked branches, tangled canopy vines, and Indian giant squirrel nests. The diet of this species consists mainly of fruit. It prefers native species of fruit, but will eat what it can find depending upon the availability of certain types. It also consumes small vertebrates and invertebrates, and occasionally flowers.

The brown palm civet is not as rare as it was once thought, with sightings occurring in Ootacamund and Kodaikanal, where it was thought to be extinct. Although it does occur in a fragmented range, it adapts easily to habitat loss due to human encroachment, often appearing in areas where tea and coffee plantations have been built. Many species that share its range have not fared so well with habitat loss, specifically those that are important seed dispersers, so the brown palm civet has become the most important seed disperser in the Western Ghats rainforest. Because the brown palm civet does not appear to have any major threats and occurs in high numbers across its range, it appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Brown palm civet feeding on fig. Credit: Kalyanvarma/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)