Arctogalidia trivirgatasmall-toothed palm civet

Geographic Range

Small-toothed palm civets are widely distributed throughout the Oriental region of Asia and the south eastern tip of the Palearctic geographic regions. Civets range from northeast India to southeast Asia. Current sightings have been confirmed in Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Laos including but not limited to the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, and Java. (Duckworth, et al., 2008; Eaton, et al., 2010)


Small-toothed palm civets are primarily a solitary, nocturnal, and arboreal species found over a wide range of habitats. Sightings have occurred in low-lands, as well as dense primary and secondary tropical canopies of coniferous forests. They have also been seen in mixed coniferous forest up to 1,450 m above sea level. It is not uncommon to receive reports of sightings in areas of active logging and coconut plantations. They inhabit very remote areas of the forests, however have been seen as close as 3 km from established villages, but this is not common for small-toothed palm civets. ("Civits, genets, and linsangs", 2003; Hoffmann, et al., 2008; Moore, 2011)

  • Range elevation
    1,450 (high) m

Physical Description

Small-toothed Palm Civets are mid-sized when considering its family, with measurements of: head and body length 44 to 60 cm, tail length 48 to 66 cm, hind foot 7.4 to 8.0 cm, ears 2.8 to 4.2 cm, and weigh between 2 and 2.5 kg. Pelage is short, tawny to buff color and varies according to the surrounding environment. Due to their tropical habitat there has been no seasonal variation in pelage. Generally, the head and back is beige, brownish grey, and sometimes reddish brown; while the under pelage is a reddish brown. Their heads, ears, feet, and tails are usually a dusky brown to grayish black. It is not uncommon to see a white strip extending from their nose to their forehead, usually with three noticeable black or dark brown stripes or spots extending from their neck to the base of their tail and midway down their sides. Many times small-toothed palm civets are confused with Asian palm civets due to the variability in their pelage. Although small-toothed palm civets will have more linear stripes and distinct edges than Asian palm civets. The eye dimensions are noticeably different between the two and eyes are larger in small-toothed palm civets. Researchers debate over the division of the species into three different sub-species based on morphology: Arctogalidia trivirgata trileneata, Arctogalidia trivirgata leucotis, and Arctogalidia trivirgata trivirgata (Eaton et al 2010). There has not been much research on this topic and standardization between the sub-species is complicated due to phenotypic variation within each sub-species. Young seem to exhibit a more beige color pelage, smaller tails, and considerably smaller in size than adults. Little is known about the young in their natural habitat as they are mainly arboreal, nocturnal, and difficult to observe. ("Civits, genets, and linsangs", 2003; Duckworth, et al., 2008; Eaton, et al., 2010; Hoffmann, et al., 2008; McNab, 1995)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    2.0 to 2.5 kg
    4.41 to 5.51 lb
  • Range length
    44 to 60 cm
    17.32 to 23.62 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    0.275 cm3.O2/g/hr


Small-toothed palm civets are nocturnal in nature so there are no observations of their mating system. (Hoffmann, et al., 2008)

Small-toothed palm civets are aseasonal breeders, with some having two litters a year of two to three young. They have a gestation period of 45 days. Only females have a parineal scent gland located near the vulva, which is used to signal mates. Females are reported to have two pairs of mammae. (Chermundy, 2011; Duckworth, et al., 2008; Francis, 2008; Hoffmann, et al., 2008; Hussain, 2004)

  • Breeding interval
    Small-toothed palm civets breed twice a year.
  • Breeding season
    Small-toothed palm civets mate aseasonally, year-round.
  • Average number of offspring
    2 to 3
  • Average gestation period
    45 days
  • Average weaning age
    61 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    17 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    17 months

Little is known about small-toothed palm civet parental care as they are nocturnal and arboreal making observation difficult.

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female


The lifespan of small-toothed palm civets is 10 to 12 years in the wild. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    10 to 12 years


There is not much known about the behavior of small-toothed palm civets. Small-toothed palm civets are nocturnal, solitary, arboreal, and not commonly seen on the ground. During the day they can be seen lounging on tree branches in the canopy of trees. It is not known whether or not these animals are social. It has been noted during some night shine surveys that multiple small-toothed palm civets have been seen feeding in the same large fruiting fig tree in spite of their solitary nature. (Eaton, et al., 2010; Hoffmann, et al., 2008; Hussain, 2004)

Home Range

There is not much known regarding the size of home range for small-toothed palm civets due to their solitary, nocturnal, and arboreal nature.

Communication and Perception

There is little information currently available regarding communication and perception of small-toothed palm civets. However, females have perineal scent glands that are used for chemical signaling during mating and breeding periods. (Hoffmann, et al., 2008)

Food Habits

While listed as a carnivore and known to prey on a wide range of small mammals, small-toothed palm civets are often seen eating an array of fruits. Due to the development and arrangement of their teeth it is assumed that fruit is the most important item in their diet. The rows of teeth for this species are unique to the carnivore order. The first and second upper molars are displaced laterally, which results in the last pair of the upper molars being the farthest apart. In addition, the smaller teeth are widely spread and demonstrate no shearing function. Small-toothed palm civets have an omnivorous diet, including insects, small mammals, birds, frogs, and lizards. ("Civits, genets, and linsangs", 2003; Francis, 2008; Hoffmann, et al., 2008; McNab, 1995)

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • eggs
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit


According to Eaton et al., when reticulated pythons have been captured and harvested, they have found in their digestive tracts the remains of small-toothed palm civets. Since they are arboreal and not known to spend much time on the ground, small-toothed palm civets would be at low risk of predation. (Eaton, et al., 2010)

Ecosystem Roles

Since they are frugivores and one of the only arboreal carnivores in their ecosystem, small-toothed palm civets play a key role in seed dispersal. They also control prey populations. (McNab, 1995)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

small-toothed palm civets become victims of the black market pet trade. When walking in the markets of Southeast Asia they are found for sale, which could be considered a benefit to the local economy. However, they are difficult for humans to trap or acquire since they are quite agile in their natural habitat. Rarely small-toothed palm civets will be taken for their meat in Chinese and Vietnamese markets. However, due to their small size they are often not worth the effort. (Duckworth, et al., 2008; Eaton, et al., 2010; Moore, 2011)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of small-toothed palm civets on humans.

Conservation Status

Small-toothed palm civets have not been currently identified as a species of concern by the IUCN Red List, US Federal List, or CITES. This is due in part to their relatively wide distribution and their occurrence in several protected areas. In addition, their nocturnal and arboreal nature put them at a lower risk to hunting threats in comparison to similar sized carnivores and ground living mammals. The greatest threat to small-toothed palm civets are habitat loss and degradation due to deforestation. (Duckworth, et al., 2008)


Chris Bauer (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Laura Podzikowski (editor), Special Projects.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


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.


having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.


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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


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


an animal that mainly eats fruit


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

keystone species

a species whose presence or absence strongly affects populations of other species in that area such that the extirpation of the keystone species in an area will result in the ultimate extirpation of many more species in that area (Example: sea otter).


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


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


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

World Map

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


"many forms." A species is polymorphic if its individuals can be divided into two or more easily recognized groups, based on structure, color, or other similar characteristics. The term only applies when the distinct groups can be found in the same area; graded or clinal variation throughout the range of a species (e.g. a north-to-south decrease in size) is not polymorphism. Polymorphic characteristics may be inherited because the differences have a genetic basis, or they may be the result of environmental influences. We do not consider sexual differences (i.e. sexual dimorphism), seasonal changes (e.g. change in fur color), or age-related changes to be polymorphic. Polymorphism in a local population can be an adaptation to prevent density-dependent predation, where predators preferentially prey on the most common morph.


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.


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


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


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


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


uses sight to communicate


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


2003. Civits, genets, and linsangs. Pp. 335-344 in M Hutchins, ed. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. Volume 14, 2nd edition Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale.

Chermundy, 2011. "Small-toothed palm civet pictures and facts" (On-line). Accessed August 25, 2012 at

Duckworth, J., R. Timmins, S. Roberton, B. Long, A. Azlan. 2008. "Arctogalidia trivirgata" (On-line). IUCN Red List. Accessed August 20, 2012 at

Eaton, J., R. Wust, R. Wirth, C. Shepherd, G. Semiadi, J. Hall, J. Duckworth. 2010. Recent records of the Javan Small-toothed Palm Civet Arctogalidia (trivirgata) trilineata. Small Carnivore Conservation, Volume 43: 16-22.

Francis, C. 2008. A Guide to Mammals of Southeast Asia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hoffmann, R., D. Lunde, J. MacKinnon, D. Wilson, C. Wozencraft. 2008. A guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hussain, S. 2004. "Mustelids, Viverrids and Herpestids of India: Species Profile and Conservation Status" (On-line). Accessed August 24, 2012 at

McNab, B. 1995. Energy Expenditure and Conservation in Frugivorous and Mixed-Diet Carnivorans. American Society of Mammalogists, Volume 76: 206-222.

Moore, R. 2011. Sightings of Javan Small-toothed Palm Civets Arctogalidia trivirgata trilineata on Gunung Salak, West Java, Indonesia. Small Carnivore Conservation, Volume 44: 38-39.