The Masked palm civet is a civet species native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. These animals are reddish to grey in color, and they have a black and white facial mask. Feet are always dark, often black. The tail is more than two-thirds the length of head and body.
Masked palm civets occur from the northern parts of the Indian Subcontinent, especially the Himalayas, ranging eastwards across Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam to China. They are also found on Borneo, Sumatra, Taiwan, Japan, and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. These animals live in both evergreen and deciduous forest, and in mountainous regions. They also inhabit tropical rain forests and are often seen near human settlements.
Masked palm civets are nocturnal solitary predators that can be occasionally active during the day. These animals are partly arboreal. They sleep in 'beds', which are usually located in trees and near a water source. When alarmed, Masked palm civets spray a secretion from their anal gland against the predator. The spray is similar in function to that of a skunk, and its conspicuousness serves to deter other predators.
Masked palm civets are omnivores that feed on rats and birds as well as on fruit such as figs, mangoes, bananas, and leaves. They also eat mollusks, arthropods, bark and to lesser extent snakes and frogs.
Masked palm civets are polygynandrous (promiscuous) breeders. This means that both males and females have multiple mates during each breeding season. Masked palm civets breed in early spring and late autumn. Females give birth to up to four pups after the gestation period that lasts for a couple of months. Pups are usually weaned when they are strong enough to take care of themselves.
The major threats for the Masked palm civets are continued habitat destruction and hunting for bushmeat. They are widely offered in restaurants in southern China and are also eaten in Viet Nam.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Masked palm civet is unknown. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
By eating fruits, Masked palm civets play a very important role as seed dispersers through fecal material. They also affect predator populations, as items of prey.