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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Large Indian Civet

Family : Viverridae
Species : Viverra zibetha

Head-body length : up to 85 cm
Tail length : up to 46 cm
Weight : up to 9 kg

The Large Indian Civet inhabits a wide range of forest types including secondary forest and forest/agricultural mosaic. It occurs at elevations of up to 3000 metres in parts of India.

It is mainly terrestrial in habits, but can climb  sturdy trees, and is almost exclusively nocturnal. It preys upon a wide range of small invertebrates such as lizards, birds and mammals, and invertebrates such as insects, scorpions and crabs. It will also consume food scraps and some fruits.  

This is one of the largest civets in Southeast Asia, and it can be identified by examination of the tail and throat area: the tail bears five or six black bands which are at their broadest on top, and which taper beneath the tail, and the throat bears three bold black collars, separated by white.

A black stripe extends along its back but does not extend onto the tail: this includes a crest of dark, erectile hairs. Its flanks and legs are mottled greyish or brownish with vague, narrow stripes. Its legs become progressively darker towards the feet.

This species can be distinguished from the similar, but smaller, Malay Civet Viverra tangalunga as it possesses fewer dark rings on the tail (i.e. 5 or 6, as opposed to 15 or so in the latter).

The most recent summary of the range of this impressive civet by IUCN (Timmins et al, 2016) confirms its continued presence in northern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and many southerly provinces of China. In Southeast Asia it occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia. Its existence in Singapore (and its status as a native species) appears doubtful.

Figs 1 and 2: Adult specimen with typical patterning from Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand. Image courtesy Tontantravel.

References : M5

Timmins, R.J., Duckworth, J.W., Chutipong, W., Ghimirey, Y., Willcox, D.H.A., Rahman, H., Long, B. & Choudhury, A.  (2016). Viverra zibetha. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
<> (Accessed 26 September 2017).

Image attribution :
Figs 1 and 2: "Large Indian Civet, Viverra zibetha in Kaeng Krachan national park.jpg"by Tontantravel is licensed under


Fig 1
ゥ  Tontantravel 
Fig 2  
ゥ  Tontantravel