Large Indian Civet (Viverra zibetha)


HB: 750-850; t: 380-462; HF: 109-140; E: 47- 52; W: 8-9kg.

A sturdily built animal with conspicuous black and white patches on the throat and sides of the rather long neck; a black crest of erectile hairs runs down over the neck and along the back, ending at the root of the tail.. The tail is ringed alternately with white and black. The flanks, thighs and hind legs are covered with confluent stripes, not large spots as in V. megaspila.The new born are mostly black. The skull is long and low, with moderate crests and a low, flat zygomatic arch; there is a marked depression between the nasals. The post orbital processes are small, but more prominent than in megaspila, they are located in the front of the skull( behind the mid point in  megaspila. The suborbital foramina are relatively small, with the long axis vertical, ( horizontal in megaspila) The mandibular ramus has the posterior edge vertical inclined backwards in megaspila (inclined forward in Viverricula malaccensis). The bullae are small, shorter than the width across the occipital condyles. In comparison with V. megaspila the dentition is more robust, with longer and stronger canines. The first upper premolar, however is smaller than in megaspila.

Range Description:

species is found in Lao PDR (Duckworth, 1997), Peninsular Malaysia (Azlan, 2003; Kawanishi and Sunquist, 2004), Thailand (Rabinowitz, 1991; Austin and Tewes, 1999), Vietnam (Boonratana , 2004; Long, and Minh Hoang 2006), Cambodia (J.L. Walston pers. comm.), China (Anhui, Shaanxi, Ganus, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Xisang, Guangxi, Gunagdong, Hainan, Fujian Zhejiang and Jiangsu), northeast India, Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. in press), Nepal, Bhutan, Singapore, (Pocock 1939, Corbet and Hill, 1992; Wozencraft, 2005). Introduced to the Andaman Islands (Lever, 1985).
Countries: Native:
Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Singapore; Thailand; Vietnam


This species lives at a naturally fairly high density for a carnivorous animal and was almost universally considered common by historical collectors (Pocock 1939). It remains common in much of its range: it is possible to see several in a single night of spotlighting on foot even in heavily-hunted Lao PDR ( Duckworth 1997), it is among the most common mammals camera-trapped across Cambodia (J. L. Walmart pers. comm.) and Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. in press), and is one of the most commonly recorded civets in Vietnam (Roberton et al. in prep.). However, in some areas (such as Southeastern China) it has become effectively extinct over large areas (M. W. N. Lau pers. comm.). Few other parts of the range are as severely impacted by habitat fragmentation and degradation coupled with hunting. It is likely that populations are widely reduced in the most heavily hunted parts of its range where habitat has been heavily fragmented, e.g. much of northern Vietnam and lowland Lao PDR. Recent camera-trapping in the Nakai–Nam Theun national protected areas, Central Lao PDR, found rather few animals (Johnson and Johnston 2007), suggesting the possibility for very heavy ground-level trapping (as occurs in much of this area) to reduce populations greatly even in large tracts of little-encroached forest.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology:

This species has been recorded in primary forest (both evergreen and deciduous), secondary forest and plantations (Duckworth et al. 1997; Azlan, 2003) and is often said to have even wider habitat use (e.g. Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It has been recorded up to 1,600 m (Than Zaw et al. in press). It is solitary, nocturnal although there are occasional day-time records of active animals (e.g. Than Zaw et al. in press) and it is usually active on the ground (Lekagul and McNeely, 1977, Duckworth 1997). An adult male was radio-tracked in Thailand and had a home-range of 12 km˛ (Rabinowitz, 1991). Occupancy of suitable habitats varies within Indochina.  Its diet consists of a wide range of animals, including fish, birds, lizards, frogs, insects, scorpions (and other arthropods) and crabs, as well as poultry and garbage (Lekagul and McNeely 1977).  In Lao PDR, this species is found in tall forest, both evergreen and deciduous, and adjacent degraded areas, over at least 200 to 1000 m, with few recent records from below 400 m (Duckworth et al. 1999); however, there are many records from other countries, e.g. Myanmar, below this altitude (Than Zaw et al. in press). They are believed to breed throughout the year, with two litters per year, and two to four young per litter (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). Breeding and resting dens are usually holes in the ground which were originally dug by other species. It was recorded in secondary forest, that was logged in the 1970s, and which surrounds a palm estate, in Malaysia in 2000-01 by Azlan (2003). Like Viverricula and Civettictis, but to a generally much lesser extent, this civet has been used as a source of civetone, an oil-like substance secreted by the perineal gland used by the animal for territorial marking.
Systems: Terrestrial

 Major Threat(s):

 Habitat loss and degradation are a threat to this species (Schreiber et al., 1989). Across its range, there has been loss and degradation of forests through logging and conversion of forests to non-forest land-uses. It is hunted for food, probably throughout its range, and certainly in Vietnam, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, NE India and Thailand, and for scent glands in Vietnam and China. Ground-living small carnivores are exposed to high levels of non-specific hunting, particularly with snares, throughout most of South-east Asia. Dogs are widely likely to be a problem for this ground-dwelling species, even though it is largely within burrows by day. Snaring and other forms of ground-level trapping occur in much of its range, including Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1997), Vietnam, and Thailand, with trapping found both inside and outside protected areas (Kanchanasaka, pers. comm.). There has been an increased demand for civet meat in Chinese and Vietnamese markets (Bell et al. 2004; Lynam et al. 2005).

 Conservation Actions:

This species is totally protected in Malaysia under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 (WPA 1972) (Azlan, 2003). This species is listed on Category II of the China Wildlife Protection Law (1988) (Li et al, 2000). China listed it as ‘Endangered’ under criteria A2acd, and it is a class II protected State species (due to trapping for food and scent glands). It is protected in Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar (GMA Small Carnivore Workshop, 2006). It is found in several protected areas throughout its range (Duckworth, 1997; Azlan, 2003; Kawanishi and Sunquist, 2004). The population of India is listed on CITES Appendix III.