Species accounts

African civet

Civettictis civetta

SUBFAMILY

Viverrinae

TAXONOMY

Viverra civetta (Schreber, 1776), Guinea. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Civet cat; French: Civette africaine; German: Afrika Zibetkatze; Spanish: Cibeta.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 27-33 in (67-84 cm), tail 13-19 in (34-47 cm), weight 22-38 lb (10-17 kg). It has medium-length legs and a rather long, erectile dorsal mane. The ash-gray to yellowish basic coloration has numerous black-brown spots on the sides of the body.

DISTRIBUTION

Sub-Saharan Africa.

HABITAT

Forests and open grassy areas.

BEHAVIOR

Solitary, territorial, and predominantly nocturnal, African civets rest in dense vegetation during the day. Scent marking is common with secretions from the perineal glands, but vocal communication is limited. Longevity may reach 14 years.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Opportunistic omnivore. African civets consume mainly fruits, rodents, insects, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and carrion.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeding occurs year round, gestation is 60-81 days, litter size one to four young. Young are born fully furred, and eyes open at birth or shortly thereafter. Weaning occurs at 14-16 weeks, and sexual maturity is reached after one year. Mating system is not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

African civets are easily tamed, and probably are the most popular animal for the production of civet. ♦

Common genet

Genetta genetta

SUBFAMILY

Viverrinae

TAXONOMY

Viverra genetta (Linnaeus, 1758), Spain. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: European genet, small-spotted genet; French: Genette commune, genette européenne; German: Ginsterkatze; Spanish: Genetta.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 17-22 in (43-55 cm), tail 13-16 in (33-51 cm), weight 3-6 lb (1.5-2.5 kg). The body is elongated, with a long tail. The head is small and has a long snout and medium-sized ears. Legs are short. The fur has a light basic coloration and dark spots, and the tail is banded.

DISTRIBUTION

Spain, Portugal, France, Arabia, north Africa, and in sub-Saharan savannas.

HABITAT

Forests, savannas, shrublands.

BEHAVIOR

European genets are probably the best known of all Viverridae. Nocturnal and solitary, common genets shelter in dense vegetation and hollow trees during the day. Genets are excellent climbers, and often climb down head first. Home ranges vary in size from 1-3 mi2 (2-8 km2), and overlap. Genets scent mark with the secretion from their perineal glands, and marks allow assessment of social status and individual recognition. Several different vocalizations are used.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Opportunistic, genets consume mainly rodents, birds, amphibians, fruits, reptiles and insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Mating occurs from January to September, but peaks in February or March. Gestation lasts 10-11 weeks, litter size is one to four. Young are born with hair, but belly is naked. Eyes open after eight days. Sexual maturity is reached after two years, and longevity may exceed 16 years. Mating system is not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Only one subspecies, G. g. isabelae, is rare and listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

None known. Genets are easily tamed, and readily breed in captivity. ♦

Aquatic genet

Osbornictis piscivora

SUBFAMILY

Viverrinae

TAXONOMY

Osbornictis piscivora J. A. Allen, 1919, Zaire. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Congo water civet, fishing genet; French: Genette aquatique; German: Wasser-Schleichkatze.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 18-20 in (44-50 cm), tail 13-16 in (34-41 cm), weight 3 lb (1.5 kg).

DISTRIBUTION

Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire). HABITAT

Heavily forested areas in proximity to water.

BEHAVIOR

Solitary.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Mainly fish, possibly amphibians and crustaceans.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY Nothing is known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed by the IUCN as Data Deficient.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Meat may be consumed by local people. ♦

African linsang

Poiana richardsonii

SUBFAMILY

Viverrinae

TAXONOMY

Genetta richardsonii (Thomson, 1842), Fernando Po (Equatorial Guinea).

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Oyan; French: Linsang africain, poiana; German: Po-jana.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 13-15 in (33-38 cm), tail 14-15 in (36-38 cm), weight 1.4 lb (650 g). The tail is longer than the body and is covered by a thick fur; it has 12 dark rings and a dark tip. The yellow basic coloration is covered by numerous small, black spots.

DISTRIBUTION

Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Cameroon, Congo, and Fernando Po.

HABITAT

Forests.

BEHAVIOR

Nocturnal, rests on tree limbs or in deserted squirrel nests during the day.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Nuts, insects, and birds.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Litter size two to three. Mating system is not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Skins used by indigenous people in some areas. ♦

African palm civet

Nandinia binotata

SUBFAMILY

Nandiniinae

TAXONOMY

Viverra binotata (Gray, 1830), Africa, Ashantee (Ghana).

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Occasionally tamed and kept as pets. ♦

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Nandinie d'Afrique; German: Pardel-Roller. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 18-23 in (44-58 cm), tail 19-25 in (46-62 cm), weight 4-11 lb (2-5 kg). The hair is long and very thick, varying in color from yellowish gray-brown to brown. The upper side of the body is darker. The nape of the neck has three dark longitudinal stripes, and there are numerous dark spots on the upper body side. The shoulder has a white blotch. The upper side of the tail is banded. The feet are very short and have naked soles.

DISTRIBUTION

Tropical Africa from Senegal and Angola to southern Sudan and eastern Africa, and south to Zimbabwe.

HABITAT

Tropical forests.

BEHAVIOR

Arboreal and nocturnal. Density of 13 per mi2 (5 per km2). Territories marked with scent. African palm civets use their forefeet much more skillfully than other viverrids; they approach the fine movements and dexterity of raccoons (Procy-onidae).

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Mostly fruits, but also rodents, birds eggs, insects. Animal prey is recognized chiefly by its movement.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Probably polygynous. Births peak in May and October, gestation is 64 days, litter size usually two, but may reach four.

Binturong

Arctictis binturong

SUBFAMILY

Paradoxurinae

TAXONOMY

Viverra binturong (Raffles, 1821), "Malacca." OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Bear cat; French: Binturong; German: Binturong. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 24-38 in (61-97 cm), tail 22-35 in (56-89 cm), weight 20-30 lb (9-14 kg). The body is compact and the feet are short with naked soles. The hair is rough and loose, with a blackish color. The binturong is the only viverrid with a prehensile tail.

DISTRIBUTION

India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indochina.

HABITAT

Dense forests.

BEHAVIOR

Nocturnal and mostly arboreal, the binturong runs like a bear when it is on the ground, putting the entire sole of the foot down. The slinking motion that is normally characteristic of viverrids is not found in the binturong.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Fruits, leaves, birds, carrion, and fish.

H Arctictis binturong H Cynogale bennetti

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Most births occur from January to March, gestation 84-99 days, litter size one to six. Both parents care for the young. Mating system is not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

May be domesticated and kept as pets. Common as a zoo animal. ♦

Otter civet

Cynogale bennettii

SUBFAMILY

Hemigalinae

TAXONOMY

Cynogale bennettii Gray, 1837, Sumatra. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Water civet; French: Civette-loutre de Sumatra; German: Mampalon; Spanish: Cibeta nutria.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 23-27 in (57-68 cm), tail 5-8 in (13-21 cm), weight 6.5-11 lb (3-5 kg). The body is heavy and compact. The black legs are short and have naked soles and greatly curved claws. All feet are webbed, but the hind legs have less webbing than the forefeet. The broad, flat nose is well supplied with vibrissae. The nasal openings are on top of the nose, and the ears are rounded. The hair is yellowish gray-brown with a black-brown throat and lower lip. The chin and a spot over the eyes are yellowish white.

DISTRIBUTION

North Vietnam, Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo. HABITAT

Streams and swampy areas. BEHAVIOR

Solitary, good climber, but not strong swimmer. Longevity may reach five years.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Crustacens, mollusks, fish, birds, small mammals, and fruits.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Litter size is two to three. Mating system is not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Endangered by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Falanouc

Eupleres goudotii

SUBFAMILY

Euplerinae

TAXONOMY

Eupleres goudotii Doyere, 1835, Madagascar. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Malagasy mongoose, slender falanouc, small-toothed mongoose; French: Euplere de Goudot; German: Kleinfalanuk; Spanish: Fanaloca, mangosta dentipequeno.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 18-26 in (45-65 cm), tail 9-20 in (22-50 cm), weight 4-9 lb (2-4 kg). The fore limbs are short and weak, with small paws. The hind legs are longer. The claws are very long, curved, and laterally compressed. There are no anal or perineal glands.

DISTRIBUTION

Madagascar.

HABITAT

Humid, lowland forests.

BEHAVIOR

Nocturnal and terrestrial, it sleeps in burrows or crevices during the day. The people of southeastern Madagascar use falanouc tails for ornamental clothing.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Falanoucs dig for food and feed on insects, earthworms, and other invertebrates.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Mating occurs in July or August, litter size is one or two. Mating system is not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Endangered by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Common name / Scientific name/ Other common names

Physical characteristics

Habitat and behavior

Distribution

Diet

Conservation status

Owston's palm civet Chrotogale owstoni Spanish: Hemigalo de Owston

Hose's palm civet Diplogale hosei Spanish: Hemigalo de Hose

Banded palm civet Hemigalus derbyanus Spanish: Hemigalo franjeado

Small-toothed palm civet Arctogalidia trivirgata Spanish: Civeta de los palmares

Sulawesi palm civet Macrogalidia musschenbroekii Spanish: Civeta celebiana

Masked palm civet Paguma larvata Spanish: Paguma

Palm civet

Paradoxurus hermaphroditus Spanish: Musang

Blotched genet Genetta tigrina

Spanish: Jineta de motas grandes

Body and base of tail have alternating and sharply contrasting dark and light transverse bands, longitudinal stripes present on neck. Underparts are pale buffy. Head and body length 20-25 in (50.8-63.5 cm), tail length 15-19 in (38.1-48.2 cm).

Coloration is dark brown or black , underparts are grayish, yellowish, white, or slightly rufescent. Buffy gray patch from eye to cheek. Tail is not banded, but dark throughout. Head and body length 26 in (66 cm), tail length 11.8 in (30 cm).

Narrow, median dark streak on head, two broad stripes from neck to elbow, two imperfect stripes at base of tail. Coloration is whitish to orange buff, usually lighter and more buffy underneath. Head and body length 16.1-20.1 in (41-51 cm), tail length 10-15.1 in (25.5-38.3 cm).

Coloration of upperparts is tawny, from dusky grayish tawny to bright orange tawny. Head is dark gray and paws are brown. White stripe on muzzle, three brown or black stripes on back. Very long tail. Head and body length 17-20.9 in (43.2-53.2 cm), tail length 20.1-24 in (51-61 cm).

Upperparts are light brown chestnut to dark brown. Underparts range from fulvous to white, with a red breast. Gray patches on face (cheeks and above eyes). Brown spots and bands present on sides and lower back. Short, close fur, whorl in neck. Head and body length 39.4 in (100 cm), tail length 23.6 in (60 cm).

White and black mask covers face. General color is gray tinged with buff, orange, or yellowish red. No stripes or spots on body. Head and body length 20-30 in (50.8-76.2 cm), tail length 20-25 in (50.8-63.6 cm).

Species is largely terrestrial, but has been seen in trees. Prefers densely vegetated habitats near water sources in both primary and secondary forests. Mating usually occurs in January and March. Each female has one to two litters, each containing one to three offspring.

Montane forest and is largely terrestrial. Partly arboreal, climbs well. Two young per litter.

Tall forest. Terrestrial, partly arboreal, climbs well. Two young per litter

Southern Yunan and southwest Guangxi provinces in China; northern Vietnam; and northern Laos.

Borneo.

Tenasserim, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and certain small islands to west, and Borneo.

Heavily consists of earthworms; however, small vertebrates, invertebrates, and some fruit may also be included in their diet.

Mainly orthopterans, worms, and other invertebrates.

Mostly orthopterans, worms, and other invertebrates. Also eat fruit.

Dense forests, sometimes coconut plantations, but avoids human settlements. Nocturnal and arboreal. Breeding continues throughout year. Two or three young per litter.

Montane and lowland forests, Sulawesi. and in scrubby grassland. Good climber.

Forests and brush country. Raises young in tree holes. Arboreal and nocturnal. Solitary. May be two breeding periods per year.

Coloration is gray to brown, entirely masked Tropical forests. Reproduction by black tips of guard hairs. Patter of dorsal stripes and lateral spots. Patter consists of white patches and white band across forehead. Backward direction of hairs on neck. Head and body length 17-28 in (43.2-71 cm), tail length 16-26 in (40.6-66 cm).

Coloration is white, gray, or buff. Spots and dark markings cover pelage from shoulders to base of tail. Spots vary from black to rust. Short legs, long body with white-ringed, black-tipped tail. Head and body length 19.3-23.6 in (49-60 cm), tail length 16.5-21.3 in (42-54 cm).

occurs throughout the year. Litter size is two to four young. Nocturnal and arboreal.

Tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest, tropical scrub forest, tropical savanna, and grasslands. Very little known about reproductive patterns. Litter size ranges from one to five offspring. Nocturnal and solitary. Arboreal and nimble. Vocalization important.

Vulnerable

Vulnerable

Not threatened

Assam to Indochina and the Malay Peninsula, and on Sumatra, Bangka, Java, Borneo, and numerous small nearby islands of the East Indies.

Omnivorous diet, such as squirrels, birds, frogs, insects, and fruit.

Not threatened

Rodents and fruit.

Vulnerable

Kashmir to Indochina and the Malay Peninsula, in much of eastern and southern China, on the Andaman Islands, Taiwan, Hainan, Sumatra, and Borneo.

Kashmir in the west to the Philippines in the east; from southern China and the Himalayas in the north to the Greater Sundas and many lesser Sunda Islands in the south.

South Africa and Lesotho.

Small vertebrates, insects, and fruit.

Not threatened

Primarily frugivorous, feeding on berries and pulpy fruits. Also eats reptiles, eggs, and insects.

Not threatened

Small rodents, birds, reptiles, fruit, and invertebrates.

Not threatened

[continued]

Common name /

Scientific name/

Physical

Habitat and

Conservation

Other common names

characteristics

behavior

Distribution

Diet

status

Banded linsang

Coloration varies from whitish gray to

Forests. Nocturnal and arboreal.

Western and southern

Small mammals, birds,

Not threatened

Prionodon linsang

brownish gray and becomes creamy on

Nests made of sticks and leaves.

Thailand, Malay Peninsula,

eggs, and insects.

Spanish: Linsang rayado

underside. Dark patter of four or five broad,

No clear breeding season. Two

Sumatra, Bangka, Java,

transverse black or dark brown bands across

young per litter.

and Borneo.

back. One large stripe on each side of neck.

Dark spots on sides of body and legs. Head

and body length (35-45 cm), tail length

(30.4-42 cm).

Indian civet

Coloration is gray or brown. Black spots cover

Scrub and densely forested

Nepal and eastern India to

Carnivorous, feeding on

Not threatened

Viverra zibetha

body, white stripes on neck. Usually two white

areas. Females are polyestrous,

southeastern China and

birds, frogs, snakes, small

English: Large Indian civet;

stripes and three black stripes. Tail has black

breeding throughout the year

Malay Peninsula.

mammals, and chickens.

Spanish: Civeta hindú

rings. Limbs are black. Average body weight

Two litters per year, each

They also eat fruit, roots,

grande

11-24.3 lb (5-11 kg), tail length 13 in (33 cm).

producing as many as four

eggs, and have been

offspring. Females raise young

recorded eating fish and

alone. Solitary, nocturnal

crabs.

animals. Terrestrial,

communicate through glandular

secretions.

Oriental civet

Long, loose fur elongated in median line of

Wide variety of habitats in forest,

Peninsular India, Myanmar Small mammals, birds,

Not threatened

Viverra megaspila

body, forming low crest or mane. Black spots

brush, and grassland. Stay in

to Indochina, and Malay

snakes, frogs, insects,

English: Large-spotted civet;

on grayish or tawny ground color. Black and

dense cover during day.

Peninsula.

eggs, fruit, and some

Spanish: Civeta de motas grandes

white stripes on sides of neck and throat.

Nocturnal, mainly terrestrial,

roots.

Head and body length 23-37.4 in (58.5-95

good climbers. Generally

cm), tail length 11.8-19 in (30-8.2 cm).

solitary, one to four offspring

per litter.

Books

Ewer, R. F. The Carnivores. Ithaca, NY: Comstock Publishing, 1998.

Gittleman, J. L. Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution. Vol. 2. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996.

Macdonald, D. W. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Nowak, R. M. Walker's Mammals of the World. 6th ed. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. 2nd ed. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1993.

Periodicals

Lariviere, S., and J. Calzada. "Genetta genetta." Mammalian species 680 (2001): 1-6.

Ray, J. C. "Civettictis civetta." Mammalian Species 488 (1995): 1-7.

van Rompaey, H. "Osbornictis piscivora." Mammalian Species 309 (1998): 1-4.

Veron, G. "Pads Morphology in the Viverridae (Carnivora)." Acta Theriologica 44 (1999): 363-376.

Veron, G., and S. Heard. "Molecular Systematics of the Asiatic Viverridae (Carnivora) Inferred from Mitochondrial Cytochrome b Sequence Analysis." Journal of Zoology and Systematics Evolution Research 38 (2000): 209-217.

Serge Lariviere, PhD

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