Large Indian Civet, Viverra zibetha

The large Indian civet (Viverra zibetha) is species that can be found in Southeast Asia. Its range includes Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal, northeast India, Laos, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. It prefers a habitat within a variety of areas, including primary and secondary evergreen and deciduous forests. It can be found at elevations of up to 5,429 feet. It holds five recognized subspecies that occur throughout its range, and some experts assert that a sixth subspecies should be formally classified. However, it is commonly thought that this possible subspecies is a variant of the species itself or a previously classified subspecies.

The large Indian civet can reach an average body length between 20 and 37 inches, with a tail length of up to 23 inches and a weight between 7.5 to 20 pounds. This species is typically greyish brown in color with grizzled fur markings appearing throughout its body. Its neck and tail hold black and white bands and the nose is white in color. The fur that occurs along its spine is longer than the rest of the fur, and its claws are retractable.

The large Indian civet is solitary and active during the night. It will spend most of its life on the ground, but is able to climb trees with skill. During the day, it will sleep in abandoned dens or burrows that another animal has constructed. Each member of this species will hold a territory of up to 2.1 square miles, which it will defend if necessary. Its diet consists of frogs, birds, small mammals, snakes, crabs fish, and eggs, but it will also consume roots and fruits in small amounts.

The large Indian civet can breed throughout the year and will typically have two litters per year. Each litter consists of up to four young, which are born in the safety of a burrow or dense vegetation. Young do not open their eyes until ten days of age, and they are weaned at around one month of age.

The large Indian civet occurs in large numbers throughout its range and is commonly seen at night. Despite this, its population numbers in some areas are dwindling. In southeastern areas of China, this species has nearly become extinct due to habitat loss and hunting. These threats are not as common in most other areas of its range, but are thought to be severe in the regions where they occur. Although it is still common in most areas, its population numbers are thought to be declining.

The major threat to the large Indian civet is habitat loss caused by logging and agricultural practices, and hunting can be especially dangerous in areas where habitat loss is severe. This species is killed for its meat and fur, and in some areas for its prene gland, which produces an odor that smells similar to rice. Snares are a threat throughout many areas of its range, specifically those meant for non-specific hunting, a practice where humans set traps for no particular animal. Civet meat has increased in demand in Vietnam and Chinese markets, and trapping occurs in both protected and non-protected areas.

The large Indian civet is listed in the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, giving it full protection in Malaysia, and can be found in Category II of the China Wildlife Protection Law, where it is listed as an endangered class II protected State species. It is also protected by law in Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. This species occurs in many protected areas across its range and is listed as a protected species under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170 and Hong Kong. The population in India appears in CITES Appendix III, and the entire large Indian civet species appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Near Threatened.”

Image Caption: Large Indian civet on display in the Natural History Museum of Genoa. Credit: Mariomassone/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)