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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Carnivores

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 extinct 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) and Indian Palm Civet (Viverra zibetha) are rare. The Malay Civet (Viverra tangalunga) is thought to be extinct in Singapore until it is rediscovered in 2012[1]. The others - Binturong, Masked Palm Civet, Large-spotted Civet and Otter Civet - are extinct 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

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 has been spotted at Pulau Punggol in 2012 [pers. comm.]. The other places they can be found are Lorong Halus, Pasir Ris Park, Pulau Ubin, Sungei Buloh.


Smooth Otter at Sungei Buloh. Left: ©Eddy Lee. Right: ©Lau SY


Smooth Otter family at Lorong Halus ©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 extinct.


Leopard Cat in Malaysia ©Con Foley

Reference
[1] http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg/nis/bulletin2012/2012nis079-081.pdf

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