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Viverridae [1]
Temporal range: 34–0  Ma
Eocene to Recent [2]
Viverrids mosaic.jpg
Viverrids, including (top left to bottom right), species of Paradoxurus , Genetta , Paguma and Arctictis
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Infraorder: Viverroidea
Family: Viverridae
Gray, 1821

Viverridae is a family of small to medium-sized mammals, the viverrids ( /vˈvɛrɪdz/ ), comprising 15 genera, which are subdivided into 38species. [1] This family was named and first described by John Edward Gray in 1821. [3] Viverrids occur all over Africa, southern Europe, and South and Southeast Asia, across the Wallace Line. Their occurrence in Sulawesi and in some of the adjoining islands shows them to be ancient inhabitants of the Old World tropics. [4]



Binturong (Arctictis binturong) on display at the Museum of Osteology Binturong skeleton.jpg
Binturong ( Arctictis binturong) on display at the Museum of Osteology

Viverrids have four or five toes on each foot and half-retractile claws. They have six incisors in each jaw and molars with two tubercular grinders behind in the upper jaw, and one in the lower jaw. The tongue is rough with sharp prickles. A pouch or gland occurs beneath the anus, but there is no cecum. [3]

Viverrids are the most primitive of all the families of feliform Carnivora and clearly less specialized than the Felidae. In external characteristics, they are distinguished from the Felidae by the longer muzzle and tuft of facial vibrissae between the lower jaw bones, and by the shorter limbs and the five-toed hind foot with the first digit present. The skull differs by the position of the postpalatine foramina on the maxilla, almost always well in advance of the maxillopalatine suture, and usually about the level of the second premolar; and by the distinct external division of the auditory bulla into its two elements either by a definite groove or, when rarely this is obliterated, by the depression of the tympanic bone in front of the swollen entotympanic. The typical dental formula is:, but the number may be reduced, although never to the same extent as in the Felidae. [4]

Their flesh-shearing carnassial teeth are relatively undeveloped compared to those of other feliform carnivores. [5] Most viverrid species have a penis bone (a baculum). [6]


Living species

In 1821, Gray defined this family as consisting of the genera Viverra , Genetta , Herpestes , and Suricata. [3] Reginald Innes Pocock later redefined the family as containing a great number of highly diversified genera, and being susceptible of division into several subfamilies, based mainly on the structure of the feet and of some highly specialized scent glands, derived from the skin, which are present in most of the species and are situated in the region of the external generative organs. He subordinated the subfamilies Hemigalinae, Paradoxurinae, Prionodontinae, and Viverrinae to the Viverridae. [4]

In 1833, Edward Turner Bennett described the Malagasy fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) and subordinated the Cryptoprocta to the Viverridae. [7] A molecular and morphological analysis based on DNA/DNA hybridization experiments suggests that Cryptoprocta does not belong within Viverridae, but is a member of the Eupleridae. [8]

The African palm civet (Nandinia binotata) resembles the civets of the Viverridae, but is genetically distinct and belongs in its own monotypic family, the Nandiniidae. There is little dispute that the Poiana species are viverrids. [1]

DNA analysis based on 29 Carnivora species, comprising 13 Viverrinae species and three species representing Paradoxurus , Paguma and Hemigalinae, confirmed Pocock's assumption that the African linsang Poiana represents the sister group of the genus Genetta . The placement of Prionodon as the sister group of the family Felidae is strongly supported, and it was proposed that the Asiatic linsangs be placed in the monogeneric family Prionodontidae. [9]

Family Viverridae [2] [1] [10]
SubfamilyGenusSpeciesImage of type species
Viverrinae Viverra Linnaeus, 1758 [11] Large Indian Civet, Viverra zibetha in Kaeng Krachan national park.jpg
Viverricula Hodgson, 1838 [14] Small Indian civet (V. indica) (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803) [15] Small Indian Civet, Silchar, Assam, India.jpg
Civettictis Pocock, 1915 [16] African civet (C. civetta) (Schreber, 1776) [17] Civettictis civetta 11.jpg
Hemigalinae Gray, 1864 [18]
Hemigalus Jourdan, 1837 [19] Banded palm civet (H. derbyanus) Jourdan, 1837 [19] Banded palm civet 10.jpg
CynogaleGray, 1836 [20] Otter civet (C. bennettii) Gray, 1836 [20] Mampalon.jpg
Diplogale Thomas, 1912 [21] Hose's palm civet (D. hosei) (Thomas, 1892) [22] HemigaleHoseiSmit.jpg
Macrogalidia Schwarz, 1910 [23] Sulawesi palm civet (M. musschenbroekii) (Schlegel, 1877) [24] Macrogalidia musschenbroekii.jpg
ChrotogaleThomas, 1912 [21] Owston's palm civet (C. owstoni) Thomas, 1912 [21] Chrotogale owstoni PWP.jpg
Paradoxurinae Gray, 1864 [18] Paradoxurus Cuvier, 1822 [25] Asian or Common Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus Chambal by Dr. Raju Kasambe (6).JPG
Arctictis Temminck, 1824 [29] Binturong (A. binturong) (Raffles, 1822) [30] Binturong in Overloon.jpg
PagumaGray, 1831 [31] Masked palm civet (P. larvata) (Smith, 1827) [32] Palm civet on tree (detail).jpg
Arctogalidia Merriam, 1897 [33] Small-toothed palm civet (A. trivirgata) (Gray, 1832) [34] Small-toothed Palm Civet (Arctogalidia trivirgata stigmatica) (8076736823) (cut).jpg
Genettinae Genetta Cuvier, 1816 [35] Genetta genetta felina (Wroclaw zoo).JPG
Poiana Gray, 1864 [18] Em - Poiana richardsonii 2.jpg


The phylogenetic relationships of Viverridae are shown in the following cladogram: [2] [10]


Golden palm civet P. zeylonensis

Jerdon's palm civet P. jerdoni

Asian palm civet P. hermaphroditus


Sulawesi palm civet M. musschenbroekii


Masked palm civet P. larvata


Binturong A. binturong


Small-toothed palm civet A. trivirgata


Otter civet C. bennettii


Owston's palm civet C. owstoni


Hose's palm civet D. hosei


Banded palm civet H. derbyanus


Malabar large-spotted civet V. civettina

Large-spotted civet V. megaspila

Large Indian civet V. zibetha

Malayan civet V. tangalunga Malay Civet (Viverra tangalunga) white background.jpg


African civet C. civetta Viverra civetta - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam -(white background).jpg


Small Indian civet V. indica

 sensu stricto 

West African oyan P. leightoni

Central African oyan P. richardsonii


Abyssinian genet G. abyssinica

Haussa genet G. thierryi

Giant forest genet G. victoriae

Johnston's genet G. johnstoni

Aquatic genet G. piscivora

Servaline genet G. servalina

Crested servaline genet G. cristata

South African small-spotted genet G. felina

Common genet G. genetta

Cape genet G. tigrina

G. letabae

Schouteden’s genet G. schoutedeni

Rusty-spotted genet G. maculata

Angolan genet G. angolensis

Pardine genet G. pardina

Bourlon's genet G. bourloni

King genet G. poensis

 sensu lato 

Extinct species

ViverrinaeViverraLinnaeus, 1758 Leakey's civet (V. leakeyi) Leakey, 1982
Semigenetta Helbing 1927
  • S. cadeotiRoman and Viret 1934
  • S. elegansDehm, 1950
  • S. grandisCrusafont & Golpe, 1981
  • S. laugnacensisDe Bonis, 1973
  • S. ripolliPetter, 1976
  • S. sansaniensisLartet, 1851
Paradoxurinae Kichechia Savage, 1965 [46]
Tugenictis Morales & Pickford, 2005 [48] [49] T. ngororaensis [48] Morales & Pickford, 2005
Kanuites Dehghani & Werdelin, 2008 [50] K. lewisae [50] Dehghani & Werdelin, 2008
Siamictis Grohé et al., 2020 [51] S. carbonensis [51] Grohé et al., 2020

Ecology and behavior

They are generally solitary and have excellent hearing and vision. They are omnivorous; the palm civet is almost entirely herbivorous. [5]

Favored habitats include woodland, savanna, mountains, and above all tropical rainforest. Due to heavy deforestation, many face severe habitat loss. Several species, such as the Hose's palm civet, which is endemic to northern Borneo, are considered vulnerable. The otter civet is classified as endangered. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

Felidae Family of mammals

Felidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, colloquially referred to as cats, and constitutes a clade. A member of this family is also called a felid. The term "cat" refers both to felids in general and specifically to the domestic cat.

Mongoose A family of mammals in Africa and Asia

A mongoose is a small terrestrial carnivorous mammal belonging to the family Herpestidae. This family is currently split into two subfamilies, the Herpestinae and the Mungotinae. The Herpestinae comprises 23 living species that are native to southern Europe, Africa and Asia, whereas the Mungotinae comprises 11 species native to Africa. The Herpestidae originated about 21.8 ± 3.6 million years ago in the Early Miocene and genetically diverged into two main genetic lineages between 19.1 and 18.5 ± 3.5 million years ago.

Asiatic linsang genus of mammals

The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang and the spotted linsang. Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.

Asian palm civet Species of viverrid

The Asian palm civet is a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. Since 2008, it is IUCN Red Listed as Least Concern as it accommodates to a broad range of habitats. It is widely distributed with large populations that in 2008 were thought unlikely to be declining. In Indonesia, it is threatened by poaching and illegal wildlife trade; buyers use it for the increasing production of kopi luwak, a form of coffee that involves ingestion and excretion of the beans by the animal.

African civet largest representative of the African Viverridae

The African civet is a large viverrid native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is considered common and widely distributed in woodlands and secondary forests. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2008. In some countries, it is threatened by hunting, and wild-caught individuals are kept for producing civetone for the perfume industry.

<i>Paradoxurus</i> genus of mammals

Paradoxurus is a genus of three palm civets within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. The Paradoxurus species have a broad head, a narrow muzzle with a large rhinarium that is deeply sulcate in the middle. Their large ears are rounded at the tip. The tail is nearly as long as the head and body.

Felinae subfamily of mammals

The Felinae are a subfamily of the family Felidae. This subfamily comprises the small cats having a bony hyoid, because of which they are able to purr but not roar.

Small Indian civet Species of mammal

The small Indian civet is a civet native to South and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List because of its widespread distribution, widespread habitat use and healthy populations living in agricultural and secondary landscapes of many range states.

Genet (animal) genus of mammals

A genet is a member of the genus Genetta, which consists of 14 to 17 species of small African carnivorans. The common genet is the only genet present in Europe and occurs in the Iberian Peninsula and France.

Eupleridae family of carnivorans

Eupleridae is a family of carnivorans endemic to Madagascar and comprising 10 known living species in seven genera, commonly known as euplerids, Malagasy mongooses or Malagasy carnivorans. The best known species is the fossa, in the subfamily Euplerinae. All species of Euplerinae were formerly classified as viverrids, while all species in the subfamily Galidiinae were classified as herpestids.

Rusty-spotted genet species of mammal

The rusty-spotted genet, also called panther genet and large-spotted genet, is a genet that is widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa. It is considered common and therefore listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Golden palm civet species of mammal

The golden palm civet is a palm civet endemic to Sri Lanka. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Its distribution is severely fragmented, and the extent and quality of its habitat in Sri Lanka's hill regions are declining.

Malayan civet species of mammal

The Malayan civet, also known as the Malay civet and Oriental civet, is a viverrid native to the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra, Bangka, Borneo, the Riau Archipelago, and the Philippines. It is listed as "Least Concern" by IUCN as it is a relatively widely distributed, appears to be tolerant of degraded habitats, and occurs in a number of protected areas.

Large Indian civet species of mammal

The large Indian civet is a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. The global population is considered decreasing mainly because of trapping-driven declines in heavily hunted and fragmented areas, notably in China, and the heavy trade as wild meat.

Cape genet species of blotched genet, large-spotted genet, or muskeljaatkat in Afrikaans, a carnivorous mammal related to the African linsang and to the civets

The Cape genet, also known as the South African large-spotted genet, is a genet species endemic to South Africa. As it is common and not threatened, it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Like other genets, it is nocturnal and arboreal, preferring to live in the riparian zones of forests, as long as these are not marshy areas.

Civet Mammals of the families Viverridae and Nandiniidae

A civet is a small, lean, mostly nocturnal mammal native to tropical Asia and Africa, especially the tropical forests. The term civet applies to over a dozen different mammal species. Most of the species diversity is found in southeast Asia. The best-known civet species is the African civet, Civettictis civetta, which historically has been the main species from which a musky scent used in perfumery was obtained. The word civet may also refer to the distinctive musky scent produced by the animals.

Viverrinae subfamily of mammals, the viverrids

The Viverrinae represent the largest subfamily within the Viverridae comprising five genera, which are subdivided into 22 species native to Africa and Southeast Asia. This subfamily was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864.

Paradoxurinae subfamily of mammals, the viverrids

The Paradoxurinae are a subfamily of the viverrids that was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864. Pocock subordinated the oriental genera Paradoxurus, Paguma and Arctictis to this subfamily.

Hemigalinae subfamily of mammals, the viverrids

The Hemigalinae are a subfamily of the viverrids denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864. Hemigalinae species are native to Southeast Asia from southern China through Indochina, Malay Peninsula to Sumatra, Borneo and Sulawesi.


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