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Paradoxurus hermaphroditus

Just found out that Paradoxurus hermaphroditus – the Luwak from yesterday’s coffee post, is the common palm civet.

I once had a close encounter with one of these guys. This was in early 1999, and we were doing field work among the Paliyans near Paachalur in the Kodaikanal hills. We trekked all day to reach a small hamlet called Kaduguthadi – it was actually reachable by road, but we were taking the forest route from another hamlet – the name escapes me temporarily.

That night, as we got ready for a campfire and a celebration (it was around Pongal, I think), we saw this little creature – we figured our it was a common palm civet much much later – running around inside one of the huts. When we asked about it, one of the residents reached out and the civet climbed his arm and sat on his shoulder. Apparently, it had strayed into the settlement when it was much younger and had been adopted by the residents. It slept indoors all day and disappeared into the forest at night.

It was very friendly and curious. Once it had smelt everyone of us – there were four of us ‘outsiders’ there – it was quite willing to be handled. None of the others being too interested in having a common palm civet (which we didn’t know it was at that time) climb all over them, I had it all to myself. It scooted up my arm and sat on my shoulder, holding on to my neck with its prehensile tail. It was a pretty amazing experience!

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