Wild Fact #366 – The Tourist Attraction – Malagasy Civet
After studying the rare Falanouc yesterday, I thought we would end the week by examining their closest living relative, the Malagasy Civet. When you think about it, we are already visiting Madagascar so we might as well stick around for the weekend, right? Although the Malagasy Civet has a higher population density then the Falanouc, these beautiful creatures are also in jeopardy and have lost between 20-25% of their population in the last 10 years. I guess it is a good thing we are studying them today since they may not be around in another 10 years.
Small But Deadly
The Malagasy Civet is a light brown colour with a lighter coloured belly and four rows of dark spots on their back. They will typically range between 40 to 45 cm (15.5 – 17.75 “) in length and can weigh up to 2 kg (4.4 lbs). Overall, they are not the biggest animal in the world but that doesn’t stop them from being a deadly predator. Granted, they only feast on small animals such as birds, reptiles, frogs, rodents and insects but nonetheless they fill a very important role in the ecosystem. Basically, if they were in North America, they would be competing with animals such as the Red Fox, Coyote and other smaller mammals. I guess it is a good thing that the Malagasy Civet doesn’t live on this side of the ocean.
Hunter vs. Hunted
As a result of the unique food chain in Madagascar, the Malagasy Civet doesn’t have too many predators, as adults. When they are young though they need to keep an eye out for snakes, birds and dogs (which have been introduced to the island). Although the adults don’t have any natural predators, they still need to be on the lookout for humans since there are many that hunt this Civet for food. I am guessing this is why the Malagasy Civet tries to use their light coloured body and nocturnal habits to blend in with their environment.
Unlike their distant relative, the Falanouc, you actually have a pretty good chance to spot the Malagasy Civet. In fact, they play an important role for tourism since they are attracted to bait stations. Is this something we should be doing? Probably not since it could lead to a whole slew of repercussions but at least you get to witness this beautiful creature in their “almost” natural environment.