Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our continued adventure with the Palawan musang

Bindi the masked Asian palm civet has become such a part of my daily routine. Every morning as soon as I get my coffee, I go into the animal enclosure where she awaits pacing back and forth in her night-time cage waiting for our daily walk. She loves to climb the large bird of paradise stalks. She explores everything.

Even after 8 months with us, she still gets quite nippy at night when her natural nocturnal hunting instincts kick in.

During the day I let her roam about the various outdoor living areas and outside of the animal enclosure. She never runs away, but I do keep a watchful eye on her so that she doesn't get into any mischief or eat any of the free-ranging various sorts of poultry running about the property and in close proximity to her. She doesn't bother with the grown chickens but the baby chicks and ducks test her hunting instincts and she did once pounce upon a hapless duckling in its cute fluffy yellow phase and it did, unfortunately, die of its injuries.

The musang is not on the endangered list, but if killed consistently as pests or food for locals, that too will change fast enough. We are also raising a rescued baby pangolin which is highly endangered by poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.
Most of the days when I am home, which is most of the time, Bindi stays with me in my upstairs office/ apartment. More often than not, it will find the highest spot to roost and will sleep away the day until around 5 pm. At night it is put in the animal house in a larger cage therein. So that it will have some sort of life I take it out during the day an hour at a time or so and let it wander around our various outbuildings.
Bindi loved her walk and was curious about everything.
Bindi is curious about everything, so we have to be careful with any toxic substances that it might get into for its own protection! She watched our daughter get into this toy electric car many times and was wondering why it wouldn't
run on its own!
Most of the locals are afraid of them when grown as they do have needle sharp claws and teeth even more so. I've heard of two that were found in a house in town and summarily killed instead of being captured and released elsewhere more suitable to their wild nature. Being omnivores the wild musang will hunt free ranging exposed poultry. Another reason the locals kill them, they consider them a pest and they like to eat them as well.

Check the archive menu if you want to find out more about how we acquired Bindi the masked Asian palm civet.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Loving a musang named Bindi

2 month old musang - palm civet named Bindi
Click photo on page to enlarge.
When Bindi was given to us as a rescue at 3 days old, we actually thought she was a Palawan bearcat or binturong. When she stared getting a masked face, I researched on the web and found photos of this same creature, and it turned out to be a musang, or masked Asian palm civet.

I gave her infants formula after having read that is what was fed a baby bear cat. She has thrived on it and now at just a little over 2 months old, has added fruits and anything it can grab from our hands or plates, like hot dogs, or Christmas turkey!

We built a 20'X15" foot enclosure for Bindi
thinking she was a Palawan bearcat.
They are naturally nocturnal creatures, but now that I have given Bindi the run of my native deck where I work at during the day, she hangs out with me on a ledge behind the desk during the day. I have noticed that her evening bouts of more aggressive play are getting shorter and she sleeps a good deal of the night. Sunlight to a musang is like Kryptonite is to Superman! The sun saps the predatory behavior that happens at nightfall. Once it is dark, her little playful nips get painful.  All of us are riddled with puncture marks from her claws. She isn't being mean, just playful like a cat, but with those sharp puppy teeth and needle like claws, they really dig in. Someone wrote that this gets better as they grow older and learn to be more gentle.

Bindi gets along with the other animals. Which is
to say, they give her a wide berth
She likes a lot of attention and loves to play, much like a cat. Tussling and rolling and grabbing balls by curling around them! She is the most interesting creature I have ever raised and we couldn't love her more.  She loves children and is hanging out on the couch with several as I write this.

We did build her a large room to sleep in at night outside. Thinking it was a bearcat we made it quite large. I just felt that since she's so young we keep her with us in our living quarters. We put her in the bathroom with the toilet seat down at night since that is when she gets too feisty and her bites get harder! She usually settles down and goes to sleep on a stuffed toy we leave in there with a bowl of milk and water.

We found out that in Indonesia, it's not uncommon for people to own musangs as a pet. They put them on harnesses and take them for walks during the day. We joined a Facebook club called Musang Lovers to find out more about them from other owners so we can raise her to the best of our ability. In our village I get no advice but how to cook them. In places where coffee is grown in other parts of the Philippines, they harvest the coffee bean poop scattered by wild civets as a livelihood.

In our village, people have told us they eat
The school children loved touching the masked civet
named bindi.
them, which horrified me. When told by one that they are good as adobo I couldn't hide my consternation. Since then, we have taken Bindi to the local elementary school so the children can interact with her and learn their ecological and economic value. It turns out on coffee plantations where musangs live, they eat the choicest coffee berries and excrete the coffee bean without the pulp in their poop. This coffee bean is cleaned, roasted and sold as Civet coffee, Kape Alamid or Kopi Luwak and is the most expensive coffee in the world. The harvesting of this coffee bean poop has created countless jobs and good income for farmers in various places in the Philippines where coffee is grown. It must be quite the national income as the musang is also on the 20 Peso bill! Not once, but twice!

Musang or masked palm civet on a 20.php bill, twice! Can you find the second one on the note?

Naturally curious about everything.

A favorite toy is a simple sock.
Up on a ledge! Hey how do I get down from here. Actually, musang have no trouble going up or down most anything! Bindis' paws are even webbed. I wonder if they like to swim?

The deck which Bindi has the run of. The desk I work from is far left. Since we have left her to roam, she is quite tame and sociable and has done relatively little damage to our things. Ciet poop is generally small and whole,  not runny and easy to pick up. I'm going to try and liter train her as one chap that has one as a pet has been successful.