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Civet family spotted in Taipei neighborhood

Masked palm civets seen browsing for food in Xinyi District

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(Facebook, 信義區三兩事 photo)

(Facebook, 信義區三兩事 photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A family of masked palm civets was spotted foraging on a sidewalk in the heart of Taipei earlier this week.

At 7:39 p.m. on Monday (April 18), a member of a Facebook group dedicated to Xinyi District (信義區三兩事) wrote that a female civet and its offspring had been spotted on Xinyi Road. The netizen, surnamed Chen (陳), speculated that the animals were escaped pets, but masked palm civets are native to Taiwan and it is illegal to keep them as pets.

In the photos, the mother can be seen standing guard over one of its kittens while at least one other searches for food under a row of bushes. Civets drew international attention in 2003 when they were determined to have played a role in the transmission of SARS in China, but there is no evidence they are the source of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many netizens expressed concern about the civets and advised avoiding contact with them:

"Civets are actually timid. Please don't scare or hurt them. They can eat bananas, apples, and other foods."

"Maybe they came down from the Four Beasts Scenic Area to find food. It is very difficult to domesticate civets. Few people keep them as pets."

"They came down from the mountains to search for food on the plains. My home is near a mountain, and I often see them nearby. They look cute, but they are actually very fierce. Don't let children get close."

"I've also seen them in residential communities. They also eat cat food, but it's really dangerous for them to enter the city."

Civet family spotted in Taipei neighborhood
(Facebook, 信義區三兩事 photo)

Civet family spotted in Taipei neighborhood
(Facebook, 信義區三兩事 photo)