Large Indian civet
|Large Indian civet|
|Large Indian civet range|
The large Indian civet (Viverra zibetha) is a civet 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.
The large Indian civet is grey or tawny and has a black spinal stripe running from behind the shoulders to the root of the tail. The front of the muzzle has a whitish patch emphasized by blackish behind on each side. The chin and fore throat are blackish. The sides and lower surface of the neck are banded with black stripes and white spaces in between. The tail has a variable number of complete black and white rings. Its claws are retractable. The soles of the feet are hairy.
Its head-and-body length ranges from 50 to 95 cm (20 to 37 in) with a 38 to 59 cm (15 to 23 in) long tail. The hind foot measures 9 to 14.5 cm (3.5 to 5.7 in). Its weight ranges from 3.4 to 9.2 kg (7.5 to 20.3 lb).
Distribution and habitat
Distribution of subspecies
- V. z. zibetha (Linnaeus, 1758) — ranges from Nepal eastwards to Assam;
- V. z. ashtoni (Swinhoe, 1864) — inhabits China;
- V. z. picta (Wroughton, 1915) — ranges from Assam and northern Myanmar to Indochina;
- V. z. pruinosa (Wroughton, 1917) — inhabits Tenasserim and Peninsular Malaysia;
- V. z. hainana (Wang and Xu, 1983)
Six subspecies have been proposed but a taxonomic revision is needed. The validity of the species Viverra tainguensis described in 1997 by Sokolov, Rozhnov and Pham Chong from Tây Nguyên in Gia Lai Province in Vietnam has been seriously questioned, and it is now generally considered a synonym of V. zibetha.
Ecology and behaviour
The large Indian civet is solitary and nocturnal. It spends most of the time on the ground. Its diet includes fish, birds, lizards, frogs, insects, scorpions and other arthropods, crabs, as well as poultry and rubbish. Little is known about its breeding behaviour. It is thought that it breeds throughout the year and has two litters per year, with two to four young per litter.
Radio-tracked large Indian civets in Thailand had home ranges of 2.7 to 8.8 km2 (1.0 to 3.4 sq mi).
Viverra zibetha is totally protected in Malaysia under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and listed on Category II of the China Wildlife Protection Law. 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. It is found in several protected areas throughout its range. The population of India is listed on CITES Appendix III.
In Hong Kong, it is a protected species under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170, though it has not been recorded in a natural state in Hong Kong since the 1970s, and is considered extirpated.
In Assamese it is called Gendera or Johamol.
In Bengali it is called Baghdas, Bham or Bham Biral and Gandho Gokul or Khatas. Biral= cat, Gandho= smell or scent. Gokul= the place of Lord Krishna (Govinda). In Bengal there is a delicate variety of sweet and pleasant smelling rice known as Govindabhog rice (the rice which is offered to Lord Govinda). The secretion from prene gland of civet cat smells like that variety of rice, so it is often called as "Gandho Gokul".
In Malay language it is called Musang kasturi (musang = civet, kasturi = musk), due to its musky smell.
In Tamil it is called Punugu Poonai (புனுகு பூனை).
In Malayalam it is called 'Veruku' (വെരുക്)
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- Lekagul, B. and McNeely, J.A. (1977). Mammals of Thailand. Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok.
- Simcharoen, S. (1999). Home range size, habitat utilization and daily activities of Large Indian Civet (Viverra zibetha). Research and progress report year 1999, Wildlife Research Division, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Bangkok.
- Shek, C. T. (2006). A Field Guide to the Terrestrial Mammals of Hong Kong. Friends of the Country Parks / Cosmos Books, Hong Kong. 403 pp. ISBN 978-988-211-331-2. Page 281
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