Mystery Weasel = Masked Civet

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Masked Civets

My neighborhood wildlife spottings started in December 2002 and it has always been a mystery to me what this long tailed grey critter was. Tanuki? Badger? I called it the Mystery Weasel in my first post and wrote about another sighting of the same animal on July 2006. After seeing four of them together two nights ago as I walked home with Tod & Heather at about 10pm - and taking a photo - I was able to track down an identification. 

They are masked palm civets, hakubishin in Japanese. Probably not native to Japan, they were likely brought here from Taiwan in the Meiji era as fur animals. These days they live in the wild and according to urban wildlife tracking website Tokyo Tanuki there are many sightings in the city, quite a few of them in my part of town. Based on eyewitness reports, they estimate a population of 315 wild civets in Tokyo. 

Who knew?

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