Small Indian civet

Small Indian civet
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Viverridae
Subfamily: Viverrinae
Genus: Viverricula
Hodgson, 1838
Species: V. indica
Binomial name
Viverricula indica[2]
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803
Small Indian civet range
(green - extant,
pink - probably extant)
The small Indian civet is a nocturnal hunter.

The small Indian civet (Viverricula indica) is a civet found in 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.[1]

The small Indian civet is a monotypic genus.[3]

Taxonomy and evolution

The scientific name of the small Indian civet is Viverricula indica. It is the sole member of its genus, and a member of the family Viverridae. The African civet was first described by French naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1803 as Civetta indica. In 1838, the English naturalist Brian Houghton Hodgson placed the small Indian civet in its own genus, Viverricula.[2] Viverricula rasse described by Horsfield from Java is considered a variety of Viverricula indica.[4]

A 2006 phylogenetic study showed that the small Indian civet is closely related to the genera Civettictis and Viverra. It was estimated that the Civettictis-Viverra clade diverged from Viverricula around 16.2 Mya. The authors suggested that the subfamily Viverrinae should be bifurcated into Genettinae (Poiana and Genetta) and Viverrinae (Civettictis, Viverra and Viverricula). The following cladogram is based on this study.[5]

Small Indian civet (Viverricula indica)

African civet (Civettictis civetta)


Large Indian civet (Viverra zibetha)

Large-spotted civet (V. megaspila)

Malayan civet (V. tangalunga)




The following nine subspecies are identified:[2][6]


The small Indian civet is 21 to 23 in (53 to 58 cm) in head and body size and has a rather coarse fur that is brownish grey to pale yellowish brown, with usually several longitudinal black or brown bands on the back and longitudinal rows of spots on the sides. In some specimens both lines and spots are indistinct, and the dorsal bands are occasionally wanting. Usually there are five or six distinct bands on the back and four or five rows of spots on each side. The neck markings are rather variable. Generally there are two dark stripes from behind the ear to the shoulders, and often a third in front, crossing the throat. The underfur is brown or grey, often grey on the upper parts of the body and brown on the lower. The grey hairs on the upper parts are often tipped with black. The head is grey or brownish grey, the chin often brown. The ears are short and rounded with a dusky mark behind each ear, and one in front of each eye. The feet are brown or black. The tapering tail is 15 to 17 in (38 to 43 cm) long with alternating black and whitish rings, seven to nine of each colour.[3]

Distribution and habitat

Small Indian civets are known to occur in south and central China, Hong Kong, most of India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. No search has been made for recent records from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Peninsular Malaysia, Java or Bali, areas where they were historically recorded. Their current status in Singapore is unclear.[1] They have been introduced to Madagascar.[10]

Small Indian civets have been recorded in semi-evergreen and deciduous forest, mixed deciduous forest, bamboo forest, scrubby areas, grasslands and riverine habitat.[11][12][13]

Ecology and behavior

Small Indian civets are nocturnal, mostly terrestrial and insectivorous.[12] They inhabit holes in the ground, under rocks or in thick bush.[3]


They feed on rats, mice, birds, snakes, fruit, roots and carrion.[10] Occasionally they carry off poultry.[3][13]


The female has usually four or five young at a birth.[3] The life span is eight to nine years.[10]


People of Traspur village in Assam hunt it for meat and purify its skin into medicine.


Viverricula indica is listed on CITES Appendix III.[1] In Myanmar, it is totally protected under the Wildlife Act of 1994.[13]


  1. 1 2 3 4 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. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  2. 1 2 3 Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 559. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Blanford, W. T. (1888–91). Genus Viverricula Hodgson. Pages 100–101 in: The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. Taylor and Francis, London.
  4. Horsfield, T. (1851). A catalogue of the Mammalia in the Museum of the Hon. East-India Company. J. & H. Cox, London.
  5. 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): 266–78. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.05.034.
  6. "Viverricula indica". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Pocock, R. I. (1939). Genus Viverricula Hodgson. Pages 362–376 in: The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1Taylor and Francis, London.
  8. 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. Pp. 282–283.
  9. Sody, H. J. V. (1931). Six new mammals from Sumatra, Java, Bali and Borneo. Natuurkundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch-Indië 91: 349–360.
  10. 1 2 3 Lekalul, B. and McNeely, J. A. (1977). Mammals of Thailand. Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok.
  11. Duckworth, J. W. (1997). Small carnivores in Laos: a status review with notes on ecology, behaviour and conservation. Small Carnivore Conservation 16: 1–21.
  12. 1 2 Mudappa, D. (2002). Observations of small carnivores in the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India. Small Carnivore Conservation 27: 4–5.
  13. 1 2 3 Su Su. (2005). Small carnivores and their threats in Hlawga Wildlife Park, Myanmar. Small Carnivore Conservation 33: 6–13.
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