How to distinguish the Masked Palm Civet from the Chinese Ferret Badger

The Masked Palm Civet (Paguma larvata) and the Chinese Ferret Badger (Melogale moschata) are often confused because of their similar appearance, even though they belong to different families. The Masked Palm Civet belongs to the Civet Family, Viverridae, while the Ferret Badger belongs with the badgers, weasels and otters in the family Mustelidae.

Chinese Ferret Badgers can be distinguished by their relatively small size (<40 cm body length), short bushy tail, pink nose, and the white stripe that extends from the head back along the spine. In contrast, the Masked Palm Civet is larger (>50 cm body length) and has a long, thick tail. The white stripe on the head does not extend as far back. The pattern of black and white markings on the face is also different in the two species, although this is not obvious when the animal is only seen briefly. Both species are widespread in Hong Kong, but the Masked Palm Civet appears to be much less shy than the Ferret Badger, so it is more commonly seen. In addition, Masked Palm Civets commonly enter the fringes of urban areas, while Ferret Badgers apparently do not.