Viverra zibethalarge Indian civet

Geographic Range

Viverra zibetha, also known as the Indian civet, is found from Indochina to southern China. It is also found in Nepal, Bangladesh, the Malay Peninsula, Hainan, and Vietnam.


Viverra zibetha live in grasslands, scrub, and densely forested areas. They are commonly found near human habitats. They live in burrows that have been dug by other animals.

Physical Description

Indian civets have large bodies that are gray or brown in color. Body length is about 34 inches with a tail length of 13 inches. They have black spots on the body as well as black and white stripes on the sides of the neck. In most cases there are two white stripes and three black stripes. The tail has a number of black rings around it. Limbs are black and the forefeet contain lobes of skin on the third and fourth digit that protect the retractile claws. Males are slightly larger than females.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    5 to 11 kg
    11.01 to 24.23 lb


Females are polyestrous, breeding throughout the year. They have two litters per year and each litter can have up to four young. They are born in a hole in the ground or in very dense vegetation. Young can open their eyes in ten days and begin being weaned at one month of age. Weight at birth is less than 100g and doubles in 12 days. At the end of one month, the birth weight has increased four fold. The females raise the young on their own.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring



Viverra zibetha are solitary, nocturnal animals. They are terrestrial and are able to climb. They live in holes in the ground that have been dug by other animals. They mark territory with their glandular secretions. This is done to communicate their presence and identify territory. It is unkown if Viverra zibetha defend territory. They range extensively and average daily and monthly range have been estimated to be between 1.7 km and 5.4 sq km.

Indian civets grasp their prey with their teeth and shake until the spinal column is broken.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Civets are carnivorous. They prey on birds, frogs, snakes, small mammals, chickens, and hens. They also eat fruit, roots, eggs, and have been recorded eating fish and crabs.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Viverra zibetha secrete a substance called civet. It is used commercially to produce perfumes. They may also influence forest structure and re-growth by aiding in seed dispersal.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Viverra zibetha prey upon domestic animals, such as chickens, placing them in conflict with farmers.

Conservation Status

The Ahmedabad Zoo in India has a small population of Indian civets. They were formerly kept in order to collect their glandular secretions.

Other Comments

Viverra zibetha are secretive and nocturnal. Therefore there is little comprehensive data on its natural history characteristics. Natural life span averages 15 years. Iin captivity they have lived over 20 years.


Adria Jackson (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


Grzimek, D., D. Herre, D. Krapp, D. Zimen, D. Schmidt. 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York, St. Louis, Lodon: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins Universtiy Press.

Rabinowitz, A. 1991. Behavior and Movements of Sympatric Civet Species in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary Thailand. Journal of Zoology (London), Volume 2: 281-298.

Sokolov, V. May 1997. New Species of Viverrids of the Genus Viverra. Zoologicheskii Zhurnal, Volume 5: 585-589.