Crested Goshawk feasting on a Common Palm Civet

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates, Raptors | 6

The series of images by GaoJian LiuJia of a Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus) and its prey was photographed at Paisr Ris Park in early March 2015 at about noon.

Discussions on the identity of the prey centered around civet cat or possible squirrel. Jeremiah Loei took the initiative to contact BESG. The images were then sent to civet researchers Xu Weiting and Fung Tze Kwan from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Biological Sciences.

Weiting confirmed that it is a Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) based on the long black tail, fur colour and the paws. Tze Kwan agreed, noting that “…it could possibly be a young civet. Civets are partial plantigrade so it has five toes in the fore paws as compared to four toes and a dew claw for cats.”

Note: Plantigrade means walking on the entire sole of the foot on the ground, as in humans. In cats and dogs, there are four toes on its paw with an extra toe (known as “dew claw”) located higher up than the other four toes.

The Crested Goshawk hunts from a concealed high perch. Once it catches the prey, it returns to its perch. There, it tears off pieces to swallow. Its food includes small birds, reptiles, mammals and large insects.

We are not aware of any earlier reports of it taking a civet, let alone a Common Palm Civet. Considering that the goshawk caught the civet around noon, it must have noticed its presence resting among vegetation. After all, the Common Palm Civet is a nocturnal animal.

GaoJian LiuJia, Jeremiah Loei, Xu Weiting & Fung Tze Kwan
March 2015

6 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    Perhaps the Toddy Cat was drunk and got caught napping. All kidding aside, Palm Civets got their nickname of Toddy Cats because they got inebriated. In days of old, when toddy tappers climbed coconut trees in Singapore to place their pots over the flowering fronds whose sap was fermented into toddy, before the full pots could be collected at the end of the working day, the civets would race the tappers to the drink. There were toddy plantations in both the upper and the lower Changi areas. That is one of the reasons I postulate for the fact that there is still a resident population of toddy cats in the Siglap and Bedok areas, far away from any nature reserve. They could be the last survivors from the Changi coconut estates.

  2. Jon

    Lee Chiu San, excuse me but would the civets have been intoxicated by the palm sap having consumed it before it was fermented into toddy?

  3. Lee Chiu San

    I was kidding, as that civet kitten might have been below the legal drinking age. In any case, there are no more toddy plantations left in Singapore. But seriously, you don’t really know how much alcohol there is in palm sap at any given time. And, from both my own and other anecdotal experience, lots of animals besides Homo sapiens like a good, strong drink.

    From what my failing memory can recall, in the dim, distant past, when our intrepid webmaster and I were Boy Scouts and used to go hiking in the Changi area, toddy tappers would hang up their pots in the mornings and return to collect them at the end of the day. Fresh palm sap is sweet, and not alcoholic. But by the end of the day, it would have fermented to quite a degree. Any Toddy Cat who had a pre-dinner drink would have ended up inebriated.

    As for other animals getting drunk, in Alaska, the natives are careful during the Season of the Drunken Bears. In late autumn, berries fall and ferment in large quantities. The bears indulge, and get drunk. In South Africa, certain fruits ripen and rot seasonally, and all kinds of wild animals get drunk.

    In the days when it was still legal to keep wild animals in Singapore, many families had monkeys, both Rhesus and Pig-Tailed Macaques, gibbons, slow lorises and even some Orang Utans. It appeared that primates are much more like us than we would like to admit, and they picked up human bad habits. Given the opportunity, many would tipple.

    Among other pets, alcohol seems very attractive. All my lorikeets would sip wine, and become fighting drunk. Lorikeets, which have outsize egos out of proportion to their size, are already aggressive enough when sober, so I did not encourage their drinking.

    And one night, after we did not clean up but went straight to bed after a party at our home, my wife’s free roaming Blue Eyed Cockatoo (Cacatua opthalmica) finished off the remnants of a glass of Grand Marnier. We found it staggering next morning and rushed it, moaning and groaning, to the vet. He was most unsympathetic, and simply told us to let the bird sleep off the hangover.

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