Mystery Beast – Danum Valley, Borneo

These two camera trap pictures from Borneo’s Danum Valley have created quite some discussion among experts and – so far as I know – the jury is still out on what they are.

What do people think?





  • Vladimir Dinets

    Any reason it can’t be a hairy-nosed otter? I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

  • Anonymous

    Could it be an Otter Civet? I’m not an expert on this though so I am probably wrong.

  • tai haku

    Hose’s civet maybe?

  • Anonymous

    It does look like Hose’s Civet. The Arkive picture looks pretty similar to this one – and the hose’s civet has got a long tail.

  • John Fox

    Is the front paw in the first photo of any diagnostic use? Mustelid was as far as I got.

  • nicolas gaidet

    the long tail, white belly and large snout make it looks like a Hose’s Civet. The rather short legs, short ears, and the U-shaped back (second picture) are more otter-like…

  • Matthew + Maureen

    It’s definitely an otter, the hunched shape of the spine in photo 2, the stiff down-pointing vibrissae and the taper of the tail are diagnostic for me. Hose’s Civet has much bigger ears and longer legs, by the look of its photo.

    Is it a hairy-nosed otter? The length of the head makes that more likely than smooth-coated for me, so barring an undiscovered species of otter (!) I would say hairy-nosed. These photos aren’t good enough to ignore the possibility of strange shadow/exposure effects making some features look a little odd.

  • Stefanie

    It looks like an otter to me too. The tail is broad at the base and then gets more narrow, while the long tail of the Hose’s civet has more the same diameter from base to tip.

  • Reza Lubis

    its definitely an Otter. Having seen several hairy nosed otters in both sumatra and kalimantan, the above picture have some indication of Hairy Nose! but the lack of possibilty to see the rhinarium part and how natural the color of the fur is (HNO that i observe has a very dark brown color compare to 3 other asian otter species),. There is also possibilty that this is the asian version of Lutra lutra which is at the moment in Sumatra/Borneo is more unknown than hairy nose. I suggest to put more camera in the area, then we will have more picture to study, Better resolution photo (if available) also will be very helpful.

  • Jon Hall

    Thanks to everyone for all these comments which I am sure will give added food for thought to those trying to identify the species. My feeling when I first saw them was Hairy Nosed Otter but the scientists in the Danum had a lot of reasons why that was not the species in the photo. Those same scientists have changed their minds a little as the pictures are not great quality and some of the reasons why its not a Lutra sumatrana might just be tricks of the light etc. Hose’s Civet seems unlikely according to those very familiar with that species. Otter Civet even less likely.

    So I think Reza’s reply above – that it could be either L. lutra or L.sumatrana is about as good as anyone can say at the moment. If anyone catches the beast or gets better shots hopefully we will hear.

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