Malaysia's civets, otters, weasels, martens and porcupines may not be well-know as other Malaysian mammals such as the elephants, tigers or tapir with which they share our forests. They are, nevertheless, interesting and often unusual animals, ranging from treetop to aquatic acrobats, from stealthy hunters to peaceful vegetarians.
Yellow-Throated Marten (Martes flavigula)
The Yellow-Throated Marten (Martes flavigula) ranks among Malaysia's most elegant and graceful mammals. The Malaysian variant has a brown belly and flanks, while the chest and throat are a striking creamy-white to canary yellow. Its diet includes insects, birds (and their eggs), lizards and amphibians.
Large Spotted Civet (Viverna megaspila)
The Large Spotted Civet (Viverna megaspila) is believed to forage entirely on the ground as it has never been observed on trees. It eats small mammals, eggs and some vegetation. It is a solitary animal and tends to be aggressive towards members of its own species. Large Spotted Civets are found in lowland forests throughout Malaysia and are best spotted at night as they spend the day sleeping in thick vegetation.
Malay Weasel (Mustela nudipes)
The Malay Weasel (Mustela nudipes) is known locally as "pulasan tanah". This species can be found in both Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, although it is never present in large numbers. Although small physically, it is, like most weasels, a fearless predator which tackles birds, mice and frogs. It gives birth to 1-4 young ones.
Hairy-Nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana)
Malaysia's freshwater and coastal areas, especially mangroves and peat swamp forests are home to the Hairy-Nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana) It feeds on crustaceans and fish, being an excellent swimmer with fully webbed feet. It is rarely encountered, but has been recorded in Penang's waters. There may also be a population in Kuala Gula, Perak. It has been observed that the male likes to take part in the rearing of the young.
Long-Tailed Porcupine (Trichys lipura)
The Long-Tailed Porcupine (Trichys lipura) is the smallest of the four Malaysian Porcupine species and can be mistaken at a glance for an oversized rat - until one notices the large tuft of stiff hairs at the end of its long tail. The Large Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura) on the other hand is a large species growing up to 7 kg in weight. Porcupines are largely nocturnal animals and are peaceful unless provoked by a predator into using their sharp quills in self-defence. Both of these porcupines can be found throughout Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
While some of these animals, such as the Large Spotted Civets , may still be relatively common, few are privileged enough to see others like the Hairy-Nosed Otter of Yellow-Throated Marten in the wild. These mammal species are all protected by law, in order to conserve a truly worthwhile part of Malaysia's natural heritage.
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