Civet Cat
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Cat BreedsCat Breeds - There are a variety of different cat breeds. Read about the many domestic cat breeds, including the Maine Coon and Siamese cats. And view the many cat breeds pictures to see how each breed differs dramatically in coat length and overall look.

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Civet Cat. Distant relative to the Felidae family of which the common domestic cat is related, the Civet Cat is not in fact a cat. Read all about this mammal, its origins and habitat.


Civet, common name for about 30 species of somewhat catlike, carnivorous mammals.

Civet Cat (Click to enlarge)

Civets are native to the warm regions of southeast Asia, southern Europe, and Africa.

They have a long body about the size of a domestic cat, short legs, a tapered head with small ears, and a long, bushy tail.

Civets are a large group of mostly nocturnal mammals of the Old World family Viverridae (civet family), which also includes the mongoose .

Civet Cat

Civets are not true cats, but the civet family is related to the cat family (Felidae).

Most civets have catlike bodies, long tails, and weasellike faces. Their fur may be gray or brown, and may be marked in various patterns.

All civets have scent-producing glands, located in a double pouch near the genitals. The fatty yellow secretion of these glands has a distinctive musky odor used for territorial marking.

Commercially, this substance is known as civet and is used as a perfume fixative. Civet can be removed from captive animals every 14 to 20 days. Some civet species are hunted for their fur.

Civet Cat

The ground-living, or true, civets form a distinctive group within the family; these animals have a highly carnivorous diet. Most have dark spots and ringed tails. They include several Asian species (genus Viverra ) and one African species ( Civettictis civetta ).

Best known is the Indian civet, V. zibetha, of S Asia, from which most of the civet for perfume is derived.

It has tawny fur with black spots and black bands on the tail. It is about 30 in. (76 cm) long, excluding the 20-in. (42-cm) tail, and about 15 in. (38 cm) high at the shoulder; it weighs up to 25 lb (11 kg).

Some of the ground-living civets are called linsangs and genets.

The palm civets form another distinct group within the civet family. These are arboreal, largely fruit-eating animals of Africa and Asia; they are classified in several genera.

The North American spotted skunk is sometimes popularly called civet but is not closely related to civets. Civets are classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Viverridae.

Although the Viverridae family is distantly related to the Felidae family of which the common domestic cat is a member, the civet "cat" is not a cat. Indeed, it is more related to the mongoose than to any cat.

Types of Civets:

Civet - Banded Palm

Locations: Indo-Australian Region - Malay Peninsula Banded Palm Civet (Hemigalus derbyanus) is found through Malaysia to Borneo and Sumatra.

Civet Cat (Click to enlarge)

The black stripes on the back and tail help identify this small carnivore that usually weighs less than six pounds.

Civet - Large Indian

Locations: Europe And Asia - Orient Indo-Australian Region - India Large Indian Civet (Viverra zibetha) is found widely in the area from northern India to China and Indo-China.

This is a large predator that can weigh over 50 pounds.

Civet- Binturong

Locations: Indo-Australian Region - India Civet - Binturong (Arctictus binturong) is found from Indo-China south through Malaysia to Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Palawan.

Although this species is part of the Viverridae Family, in some ways this animal appears like a small bear.

Large examples of the Binturong can weigh as much as 30 pounds.

Civet - Two Spotted

Locations: Africa - Central Two Spotted Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata) is found in the interior of Central Africa and from there to the west coast.

This is a forest species that spends much of its time in trees.

This civet feeds primarily on insects, small animals, and fruits.

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