About Golden Palm Civet

This palm civet (Paradoxurus zeylonensis) is unique to Sri Lanka and is one of the world’s most endangered animals. In accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, it is classified as Vulnerable. In Sri Lanka’s hill country, its distribution is badly fragmented, and the extent and quality of its habitat in the region’s hill areas are both deteriorating.

Peter Simon Pallas description of the golden palm civet was published in 1778.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Viverridae
Genus: Paradoxurus
Species: P. Zeylonensis
Binomial Name: Paradoxurus zeylonensis


Viverra zeylonensis was the scientific name given by Peter Simon Pallas in 1778 to a specimen of the palm civet from Sri Lanka that he had collected. Several zoological specimens were discovered and described between the nineteenth and early twentieth century, including:

  • Paradoxurus aureus by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822.
  • Paradoxurus montanus by Edward Frederick Kelaart in 1852 who described a fulvous brown palm civet from the mountains of Sri Lanka, which he considered a variety of the golden palm civet.
  • Paradoxurus stenocephalus by Colin Groves and colleagues in 2009 who described a golden brown specimen from Sri Lanka’s dry zone. They proposed to regard P. montanus, P. aureus and P. stenocephalus as distinct species based on coat colour and skull measurements of specimens.

It has been determined by the genetic study that specimens of P. montanus, P. aureus, and P. stenocephalus all belong to the same haplotype. Neither a distinct species nor a subspecies, but rather junior synonyms of the golden palm civet, should be considered because of their limited genetic differentiation.


The upper half of the golden palm civet is gold to golden brown in color, while the belly is a paler gold. Individuals might range in color from dark sepia to ochreous, rusty, or golden-brown in appearance. The tips of the contour hairs are typically glossy, yet they can sometimes be gray in color. However, the tail and the face are sometimes noticeably whiter, buffy-grey in color, and the legs are about the same shade as the back. The face is completely devoid of pattern, and the vibrissae have a dirty white color. The hair in front of the shoulders is divided into two whorls, and it grows forward along the sides of the neck and the nape of the neck until it reaches the crown of the head. Moreover, it extends forward on the fore neck, emanating from a single whorl, as well. There are a few weak bands and spots on the dorsal pattern that are somewhat deeper in color than the background color. In comparison to the upper side, the lower side is a little paler and sometimes greyer. The golden palm civet is found in two different color morphs: one that is golden and one that is dark brown. Monterey Specimens are darker, slightly greyish-toned wood brown on the underside, with a yellowish-white tail tip, while specimens from other places are whiter and darker on the underside.

The edges of the rounded ears are completely hairless. The pupils are vertical and the pupils are huge. Because of the presence of anal glands, it emits a nice odor that is reminiscent of Michelia Champaca flowers.

Distribution and Habitat

The golden palm civet can be found in the lowland rain forest, montane evergreen forest, and deep monsoon forest, among other habitats.

Ecology and Behaviour

The golden palm civet is forest-dependent, but it is tolerant of slight habitat change in areas where there is still a remnant of continuous forest. In addition to being arboreal, nocturnal, and solitary, it feeds on a variety of fruits and berries, as well as invertebrates and a variety of small vertebrates.

Culture Significant

The Sinhala-speaking society refers to the golden palm civet as Pani Uguduwa, Sapumal Kalawaddha, Ran Hothambuwa, Hotambuwa, or Ran Hothambuwa, Hotambuwa in Sri Lanka. Both Golden and Asian Palm Civets are frequently referred to as Kalawedda in Sinhala and maranai in Tamil when they are found in large groups.

The term Hotambuwa, on the other hand, is most commonly used to refer to a completely other species, the Ruddy Mongoose (Herpestes smithii). Because of their similar appearance and coloration, they are frequently mistaken for one another.

The civet is depicted on the Sri Lankan postal stamp, which costs three rupees. While the stamp is captioned “Golden Palm Cat,” this is in recognition of the great protection afforded to this indigenous species by the Sri Lankan government.


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