Last updated

African civet (Civettictis civetta)
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Viverridae
Subfamily: Viverrinae
Gray, 1864


The Viverrinae represent the largest subfamily within the Viverridae comprising five genera, which are subdivided into 22 species native to Africa and Southeast Asia. [1] This subfamily was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864. [2]



Gray defined the Viverrinae as comprising the genera Proteles , Viverra , Bassaris and Viverricula . He subordinated the genera Genetta and Fossa to the Genettina, the genera Prionodon and Poiana to the Prionodontinae. [2] Reginald Innes Pocock suggested that the African genets (Genetta) are also most nearly related to the Viverrinae, but should perhaps form a separate subfamily. [3] William King Gregory and Milo Hellman placed the Viverra, Viverricula, Civettictis, Genetta, Osbornictis , Poiana and the North-American eucreodine genera Didymictis and Viverravus of the Eocene into this viverrid subfamily. [4] Ellerman and Morrison-Scott also included the genus Prionodon . [5]

DNA analysis based on 29 Carnivora species comprising 13 Viverrinae species and three species representing Paradoxurus , Paguma and Hemigalinae supports the placement of Prionodon in the monogeneric family Prionodontidae as the sister-group of the Felidae . These investigations also clarified the controversial issue of the boundaries of this subfamily supporting the Viverrinae as being constituted by two monophyletic groups, namely the terrestrial civets CivettictisViverraViverricula and PoianaGenetta. [6]

At present, the Viverrinae comprise: [7] [8]

GenusSpecies IUCN Red List status and distribution
ViverraLinnaeus, 1758 [9] Large Indian civet (V. zibetha) Linnaeus, 1758 [9]
Large Indian Civet, Viverra zibetha in Kaeng Krachan national park.jpg
LC [10]
Large Indian Civet area.png
Malayan civet (V. tangalunga) Gray, 1832 [11]
Malay civet.jpg
LC [12]
Malayan Civet area.png
Malabar large-spotted civet (V. civettina) Blyth, 1862 [13] CR [14]
Malabar Large-spotted Civet area.png
Large-spotted civet (V. megaspila) Blyth, 1862 [13]
EN [15]
Large-spotted Civet area.png
ViverriculaHodgson, 1838 [16] Small Indian civet (V. indica) Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803 [17]
Small Indian Civet, Silchar, Assam, India.jpg
LC [18]
Small Indian Civet area.png
Civettictis Pocock, 1915 [19] African civet (C. civetta) (Schreber, 1776) [20]
Civettictis civetta 11.jpg
LC [21]
African Civet area.png


Viverrina species have a robust body. There is a deep pouch for secreting in the form of a deep cavity on each side of the anus. The back of the hind feet is hairy except the pad of the toes and the metatarsus. [2] The digitigrade feet are adapted for movement on the ground. The cushion-like indistinctly subdivided plantar pad and the pads of digits 2 to 4 are alone applied to the ground. The first digit is small and set well above the plantar pad, and constitutes a practically functionless "dew-claw". The dental formula is: [3]

The outstanding characteristics of the modern Viverrinae are the high development of the perineal scent glands, the marked anteroposterior elongation of the entotympanic chamber of the compound bulla and the carnassial form of the cheek-teeth. [4]

They have excellent hearing and vision. Their flesh-shearing carnassial teeth are relatively undeveloped. [22]

Viverrids are amongst the primitive families of the Carnivora, with skeletons very similar to those of fossils dating back to the Eocene, up to 50 million years ago. They are variable in form, but generally resemble long-nosed cats. Most have retractile or partially retractile claws, a baculum.[ citation needed ]

The Viverrinae range in size from the African linsang with a body length of 33 cm (13 in) and a weight of 650 g (1.43 lb) to the African civet at 84 cm (33 in) and 18 kg (40 lb).[ citation needed ]

Distribution and ecology

This subfamily is found throughout the Oriental region, and is represented in Africa by the African civet (Civettictis civetta). [3] The common genet (Genetta genetta) is considered to have been introduced to Europe and the Balearic islands, and occurs in all of continental Portugal, Spain and most of France. [23]

They are generally solitary and omnivorous, despite their placement in the order Carnivora. [22]

Related Research Articles

Viverridae family of mammals, the viverrids

Viverridae is a family of small to medium-sized mammals, the viverrids, comprising 15 genera, which are subdivided into 38 species. This family was named and first described by John Edward Gray in 1821. Members of this family are commonly called civets or genets. Viverrids are found in South and Southeast Asia, across the Wallace Line, all over Africa, and into southern Europe. Their occurrence in Sulawesi and in some of the adjoining islands shows them to be ancient inhabitants of the Old World tropics.

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.

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.

Spotted linsang species of mammal

The spotted linsang is a linsang, a tree-dwelling carnivorous mammal, found throughout much of Southeast Asia. It is widely, though usually sparsely, recorded, and listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

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. Genet fossils from the Pliocene have been found in Morocco. The common genet is the only genet present in Europe and occurs in the Iberian Peninsula and France.

Aquatic genet species of mammal

The aquatic genet is a genet that has only been recorded in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since it is only known from about 30 specimens in zoological collections, it had been listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List since 1996, as it is considered one of Africa's rarest carnivores. In 2015, it has been reassessed as Near Threatened.

Abyssinian genet species of mammal

The Abyssinian genet, also known as the Ethiopian genet, is a genet species native to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti. It is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List. It is one of the least-known genet species.

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.

Banded linsang species of mammal

The banded linsang is a linsang, a tree-dwelling carnivorous mammal native to the Sundaic region of Southeast Asia.

Large-spotted civet species of mammal

The large-spotted civet is a viverrid native to Southeast Asia that is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

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.

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.

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.

Bourlons genet species of mammal

Bourlon's genet is a genet species native to the Upper Guinean forests. It is known from only 29 zoological specimens in natural history museum and has been described as a new Genetta species in 2003. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as the global population is estimated at less than 10,000 mature individuals.

<i>Viverra</i> genus of mammals

Viverra is a mammalian genus that was first nominated and described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 as comprising several species including the large Indian civet. The genus was subordinated to the viverrid family by John Edward Gray in 1821.

<i>Poiana</i> (genus) genus of mammals

The African linsangs also known as oyans are two species classified in the mammalian subfamily Viverrinae, in the family Viverridae. There is one genus, Poiana.


  1. Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 548–559. ISBN   978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC   62265494.
  2. 1 2 3 Gray, J. E. (1864). A revision of the genera and species of viverrine animals (Viverridae), founded on the collection in the British Museum. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London for the year 1864: 502–579.
  3. 1 2 3 Pocock, R. I. (1939). The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. Taylor and Francis, London.
  4. 1 2 Gregory, W. K., and M. Hellman. (1939). On the evolution and major classification of the civets (Viverridae) and allied fossil and recent Carnivora: Phylogenetic study of the skull and dentition. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 81 (3): 309–392.
  5. Ellerman, J. R., Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946. Second edition. British Museum of Natural History, London.
  6. Gaubert, P. and Veron, G. (2003). "Exhaustive sample set among Viverridae reveals the sister-group of felids: the linsangs as a case of extreme morphological convergence within Feliformia". Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B, 270 (1532): 2523–2530. doi : 10.1098/rspb.2003.2521
  7. Gaubert, P. & Cordeiro-Estrela, P. (2006). "Phylogenetic systematics and tempo of evolution of the Viverrinae (Mammalia, Carnivora, Viverridae) within feliformians: implications for faunal exchanges between Asia and Africa" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution . 41 (2): 266–278. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.05.034. PMID   16837215. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  8. Nyakatura, K. & Bininda-Emonds, O. R. P. (2012). "Updating the evolutionary history of Carnivora (Mammalia): a new species-level supertree complete with divergence time estimates". BMC Biology. 10: 12. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-10-12. PMC   3307490 . PMID   22369503.
  9. 1 2 Linnæus, C. (1758). "Viverra Zibetha". Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I (in Latin) (10 ed.). Holmiæ (Stockholm): Laurentius Salvius. p. 44.
  10. Timmins, R.J.; Duckworth, J. W.; Chutipong, W.; Ghimirey, Y.; Willcox, D. H. A.; Rahman, H.; Long, B. & Choudhury, A. (2016). "Viverra zibetha". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . IUCN. 2016: e.T41709A45220429. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T41709A45220429.en .
  11. Gray, J. E. (1832). "On the family of Viverridae and its generic sub-divisions, with an enumeration of the species of several new ones". Proceedings of the Committee of Science and Correspondence of the Zoological Society of London. 2: 63–68.
  12. Duckworth, J. W.; Mathai, J.; Wilting, A.; Holden, J.; Hearn, A. & Ross, J. (2016). "Viverra tangalunga". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . IUCN. 2016: e.T41708A45220284. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T41708A45220284.en .
  13. 1 2 Blyth, E. (1862). "Report of curator, zoological department, February, 1862, No. 1". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (31): 331−333.
  14. Duckworth, J. W.; Mathai, J.; Wilting, A.; Holden, J.; Hearn, A. & Ross, J. (2016). "Viverra tangalunga". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . IUCN. 2016: e.T41708A45220284. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T41708A45220284.en .
  15. Timmins, R.; Duckworth, J.W.; WWF-Malaysia; Roberton, S.; Gray, T.N.E.; Willcox, D. H. A.; Chutipong, W. & Long, B. (2016). "Viverra megaspila". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . IUCN. 2016: e.T41707A45220097. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T41707A45220097.en .CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. Hodgson, B. H. (1838). "Classified Catalogue of Nepalese Mammalia". Annals of Natural History. 1 (2): 152−154.
  17. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, E. (1803). "La Civette de l'Inde". Catalogue des Mammifères du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Paris: Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle. p. 113.
  18. Choudhury, A.; Duckworth, J.W.; Timmins, R.; Chutipong, W.; Willcox, D.H.A.; Rahman, H.; Ghimirey, Y. & Mudappa, D. (2015). "Viverricula indica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . IUCN. 2015: e.T41710A45220632. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41710A45220632.en .
  19. Pocock, R. I. (1915). "On the Feet and Glands and other External Characters of the Viverrinae, with the description of a New Genus". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: 131−149.
  20. Schreber, J. C. D. (1778). "Die Civette Viverra civetta". Die Säugethiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur, mit Beschreibungen. Erlangen: Wolfgang Walther. pp. 418–420.
  21. Do Linh San, E.; Gaubert, P.; Wondmagegne, D. & Ray, J. (2015). "Civettictis civetta". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2015: e.T41695A45218199. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41695A45218199.en .
  22. 1 2 Wozencraft, W. C. (1984). Macdonald, D (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Mammals . New York: Facts on File. pp.  134–135. ISBN   978-0-87196-871-5.
  23. Delibes, M. (1999). Genetta genetta. In: A. J. Mitchell-Jones, G. Amori, W. Bogdanowicz, B. Kryštufek, P. J. H. Reijnders, F. Spitzenberger, M. Stubbe, J. B. M. Thissen, V. Vohralík, and J. Zima (eds.) The Atlas of European Mammals. Academic Press, London, UK