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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Summary

The Small Indian Civet is also referred to as the Rasse and is a very common nocturnal mammal. They are often kept as tamed pets in house for their ability to catch rats and also for its civet.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is currently known to occur in south and central China (Wang and Fuller, 2001, 2003), Hong Kong (Suen, 2002), most of India (Mudappa, 2002), Lao PDR (Duckworth, 1997), Myanmar (Su Su, 2005), Thailand (Rabinowitz, 1991; Austin and Tewes, 1999), Viet Nam (Roberton 2007), Cambodia (J. L. Walston pers. comm.) and Sri Lanka (Ratnayeke pers. comm.). No search has been made for recent records from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Peninsular Malaysia, Java or Bali (Indonesia), areas where it was historically recorded, mostly commonly. It was formerly known from Singapore but its current status there is unclear (B. P. Y.H. Lee pers. comm.). Corbet and Hill (1992) include all of Sumatra for the species' distribution range, but only four individuals are known, all from one locality in the far north. Sody (1931) described these as a distinct subspecies, Viverricula malaccensis atchinensis. Other records from Sumatra have not been seen, and it is suggested to restrict its range to the north (Meijaard pers. comm.), and the lack of recent records from Sumatra is puzzling (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). It has been introduced to Madagascar (Lekagul and McNeely 1977; Zhang 1997), Socotra (Yemen; Pocock 1939) and Zanzibar (Tanzania; W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). The current status of these introduced populations is poorly known.
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Geographic Range

Viverricula indica inhabits areas across Asia, from southern and central China in the east through Indochina and India. Its range also stretches south into the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali. This species has been introduced to Zanzibar, Madagascar, Comoros, and Socotra (islands off the East coast of Africa) as well as several islands in the Philippines.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Introduced , Native ); ethiopian (Introduced )

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Physical Description

Morphology

"Tawny gray or grayish-brown, with several longitudinal lines. or streaks on the back and croup; the side spotted more or less in rows; some transverse bands on the sides of the neck, and also a few indistinct lines ; abdomen without spots ; head darker, with a black stripe from the ear to the shoulder ; tail long, with eight or nine complete dark rings."
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Physical Description

Small Indian civets have brown, yellow, or tawny orange pelage ornamented with black and white rings on their necks, small spots on the body which converge into six to eight dark stripes on the back toward the tail, and black-and-white banded tails. The paws are typically dark brown or black, and the breast is a lighter brown or gray, with few if any markings. Small Indian civets are distinguished from closely related civets (Viverra) by their significantly smaller size, lack of a dorsal crest of fur, smaller gap between their ears, and shorter rostra. Males are generally larger than females.

Range mass: 2 to 4 kg.

Average mass: 2.7 kg.

Range length: 750 to 1060 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; male larger

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Size

"Length, head and body, 22 or 23 inches; tail 16 or 17."
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species has been recorded in semi-evergreen and deciduous forest, mixed deciduous forest, bamboo forest, scrubby areas, grasslands and riverine habitat (Duckworth 1997, Le Xuan Canh et al. 1997; Mudappa, 2002; Su Su, 2005). This species is nocturnal and mostly terrestrial (Mudappa, 2002). An adult male was radio-tracked in Thailand and had a home range of 3.1 km² (Rabinowitz, 1991). In Lao PDR, this species is found in Semi-evergreen (rarely) and deciduous forest, including adjacent degraded areas (Duckowrth et al. 1999). In other countries it is tolerant of habitat degradation and lives in proximity to human communities (Lekagul and McNeely 1988) and an active avoidance of closed evergreen forest was shown in Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. in press; see ‘population’). In Thailand, it is mostly found in long grass or scrub, particularly in areas near villages, where it may live in drains, outhouses, and roofs, eating domestic poultry (Su Su, 2005) as well as rats, mice, birds, snakes, fruit, and roots, as well as carrion (Lekagul and McNeely 1988). It has litters of three to five, and the life span is eight to nine years (Lekagul and McNeely 1988). In Myanmar this species was recorded from both mixed deciduous forest and bamboo forest (Su Su, 2005). This species was rarely seen in the undisturbed rainforests of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) in India, and was mostly seen near garbage dumps (Mudappa, 2002). In KMTR they were not camera-trapped frequently in rainforest, but were the most camera-trapped species in grasslands and in a riverine habitat (Mudappa, 2002). This species is nocturnal, and mostly terrestrial and insectivorous (Mudappa, 2002). Wang and Fuller (2001) conducted a study on the ecology of this species near Taohong Village in northern Jiangxi Province, southeastern China, from April 1993 to November 1994. Wang and Fuller (2003) conducted a study on the food habits of this species in a rural agricultural area of southeastern China (Taohong Village, Jiangxi Province) by analyzing its scats, the study was conducted between June 1992 and November 1994, and found that this species ate mostly mammals, with moderate insects and plants.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The habitat of small Indian civets is highly variable, as they have adapted to a wide variety of different living conditions throughout their vast geographic range. In many places, they live in close proximity to humans, and have not suffered due to human encroachment. In fact, in many places they are most commonly seen feeding on poultry and living in gutters or outhouses or even garbage dumps. Small Indian civets prefer open areas, dense rainforest sightings (with camera traps) occur much less frequently than sightings in riverine, deciduous forest, and grassland environments. They are typically found at lower altitudes, although their adaptability has rendered exact limits difficult to define.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

Wetlands: marsh

Other Habitat Features: suburban ; agricultural ; riparian

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Although some viverrids feed primarily on fruit, small Indian civets are primarily carnivorous. They eat mainly small vertebrates, especially rodents. However, they are also opportunistic and will eat fruit, carrion, and human garbage. They have been reported preying on small pets and livestock as well.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; eggs; carrion ; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks; terrestrial worms

Plant Foods: roots and tubers; fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Small Indian civets seem to have adapted to fill a niche different than similar species: the larger members of genus Viverra are speculated to be large enough to be ecologically independent of V. indica due to marginalized competition. Their primary ecological impact may be to control rodent populations. Their high adaptability means they are found in many kinds of environments and can switch foraging strategies opportunistically. Ecological impacts, therefore, vary across their range. In Madagascar, it is likely that the thriving populations of V. indica have caused a decrease in size of populations of falanoucs (Eupleres goudotii) and Malagasy civets (Fossa fossana) due to competition. Little is known about status and ecology of populations of V. indica on Socotra and Zanzibar.

Small Indian civets can carry diseases, but their role as a disease vector seems to be minimal. They are affected by a variety of external parasites. However, little research has been done on V. indica as a host species, and therefore further details are largely unknown.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Predation

Small Indian civets have few natural predators. They are opportunistically taken when weak, sick, or injured by larger predators. They are occasionally eaten by humans and domestic dogs. Their first reaction when confronted with a potential threat is to run and hide. They are quick, climb well, and are well camouflaged by their striped coats. They are also mainly nocturnal and hide in burrows for the majority of the day. If confronted or cornered, they will bite and claw in self-defense.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

"It lives in holes in the ground or in banks, occasionally under rocks, or in dense thickets, now and then taking shelter in drains and out-houses. These animals dwell in forests or detached woods and copses, whence they wander freely into the open country by day (occasionally at least) as well as by night. They are solitary and single wanderers, even the pair being seldom seen together, and they feed promiscuously upon small animals, bird's eggs, snakes, frogs, insects ; besides some fruits or roots."
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Communication and Perception

Because small Indian civets are solitary, communication is minimal except before and during mating. They use both acoustic and chemical communication as part of the mating process. When animals are not paired or mating, scent markings (urine and feces) are probably the only means of communication and may warn others of territory boundaries.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Data is not available on the lifespan of wild animals. In captivity several sources report maximum lifespans of twenty years or more.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
22 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Not much is known about the longevity of these animals. One wild born specimen was about 13-14 years old when it died in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005). Maximum longevity may be underestimated, though, and further studies are necessary.
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Reproduction

"The female has six ventral teats, and has usually four or five young at a birth."
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Viverricula indica is almost completely solitary and asocial, except during mating season. Mating typically occurs once a year. The processes by which mates are chosen is largely unknown. There is no data on whether individuals associate more with former mates or show preferences to mates which have any specific morphology.

The civet gland has been shown to be of great importance to reproduction. It is likely the chemicals emitted by this gland attract mates to each other or demonstrate which animals are in estrus. During periods of estrus, both males and females deposit civet oil from their glands on many types of objects. In a study of reproduction in captivity, males rubbed their civet oil on cages of both other male and female individuals, while females rubbed their oils only on their own cages. This could show male dominance or a form of male competition for mates and female mate choice. According to the same study, males also made a unique "da-da-da" sound while excited. The male chased the female and then sniffed her anus prior to copulation.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

In captivity, researchers in China have shown that Viverricula indica has two estrus periods. The majority of individuals came into heat from February to April, but a few came into heat in August and September. In the wild, little is known about estrus cycles in this species. It is thought that animals can enter estrus at any time of year in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In Madagascar, the breeding season is thought to be September to October. Data for newborn animals through weaning is largely unavailable. Available information comes from animals in captivity. Females give birth to from 2 to 5 young that are weaned at 4 to 4.5 months old.

Breeding interval: Breeding seems to occur once yearly.

Breeding season: Breeding can occur throughout the year in some areas. Breeding may be season in other areas.

Range number of offspring: 2 to 5.

Range weaning age: 4 to 4.5 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

Little research on parental investment has been done, but females wean their young at roughly four months. Females are probably the sole providers of parental care.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Duckworth, J.W., Timmins, R.J. & Muddapa, D.

Reviewer/s
Belant, J. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Least Concern due to its widespread geographical distribution and widespread habitat use, with evidence from many range states of healthy populations in agricultural/secondary landscapes. Some populations may be locally depressed by snaring/hunting but not to the extent of threatening the species. It persists in the face of heavy hunting that has wiped out some other ground-dwelling species, and it is mainly an open-forest and edge species, so that it has probably benefited from the rampant forest conversion of the last century in southeast Asia. There are no recent records for Sumatra, but it is possible that the species was not native there.
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Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1 Year Published: 2008
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Although its natural habitat has become compromised by human encroachment, Viverricula indica continues to thrive, and the overall population trend is reported to be "steady" by IUCN. Small Indian civets are highly adaptable and human encroachment does not seem to have a very negative impact on their range. They are minimally threatened by hunting for pelts and killing by farmers to protect livestock. They are widely considered pests and have become a dominant competitor in Madagascar where they were introduced. There is therefore a much greater concern for the conservation of other species which it affects than there is for V. indica itself.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix iii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
The population status of this species is less well known that that of some other Southeast Asian small carnivores, because recent survey efforts have mostly not been appropriate for assessing the species. This is best shown by records from Myanmar. Su Su (2005) found that it was the second most common species of small carnivore recorded in Hlawga Wildlife Park in Myanmar, a secondary small isolate of semi-natural habitat in the outskirts of Yangon, a former capital city, subject to barely controlled snaring and other forms of encroachment, where only one other species of small carnivore persists in significant numbers. Recent camera-trapping showed that it is also abundant (by far the most frequently photographed nocturnal small carnivore) in Alungdaw Kathapa national park (Thaint Thaint Myo pers. comm. 2007), although intensive camera-trapping for Tigers a few years earlier at this site had recorded the species only twice. This reflected the focus of the Tiger survey on little-disturbed evergreen forest, a habitat little-used by the species in South-east Asia, rather than the edge, disturbed and secondary areas the focus of the latter survey (Than Zaw et al. in press). The habitat degradation and hunting patterns of these two sites in Myanmar where the species is common are representative of much of non-Sundaic Southeast Asia, and incidental records from various other sites (e.g. Duckworth and Robichaud 2005) imply large populations in total, although it is likely that in Viet Nam and Lao at least populations will have been somewhat depleted by snaring. This factor (the tendency for camera-trap surveys to go to the least encroached habitat blocks) has certainly much reduced the number of recent records of the species from South-east Asia. In Cambodia, where more camera-trapping has taken place in deciduous forest areas, it is commonly camera trapped (J. L. Walston pers. comm.). The same factor was suspected to be responsible for the relatively few recent records from Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1999), and may also have generated earlier remarks such as in Thailand, this species is rather rare (Lekagul and McNeely 1977); in fact, it is common in the degraded parts of Khao Yai national park but difficult to fin within the forest itself (J. W. Duckworth and A. Nettelbeck pers. comm.). It is also abundant over large areas of India. It is common in deciduous forests of Dak Lak, Viet Nam (Le Xuan Canh et al. 1997) and more widely in the country (Roberton 2007). No information has been sought for the Sundaic populations except for Sumatra, where the species status has always been unclear; no recent records were traced.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
The extent to which extensive habitat loss and degradation are a threat to this species remains unclear as in most or all of its range areas it is more common in altered landscapes than in closed-canopy old-growth evergreen forest. This species is hunted for its meat and scent (Gupta 2004) in some portions of its range which potentially might reduce populations. Ground-dwelling small carnivores are exposed to hunting, particularly with snares. This is occurring in much of its range, including Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1997) and Thailand, with snaring found even in some protected areas (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.). There has been an increased demand for civet meat in Chinese and Viet Namese markets (Bell et al. 2004, Lynam et al. 2005). In India animals are caught for captivity for collection of ‘civet’, a fixative used internationally in the perfume industry and domestically for various purposes; even in areas of heavy collection, the animals remain common in the degraded forest, scrub and agricultural landscapes covering most of peninsular India. There is no evidence (at least from the non-Sundaic parts of its range) that it is not well able to survive high combined pressures of forest conversion and harvesting. The converse seems to be true: it remains more common than most other species of small carnivore in heavily encroached areas of southern China (M.W.N. Lau pers. comm.), as it does in heavily encroached Myanmar (Su Su 2005).
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"Hunting for the civet, which is used as a fixative in the perfume industry."
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
In Myanmar, this species is totally protected under the Wildlife Act of 1994 (Su, 2005). This species is listed on Category II of the China Wildlife Protection Law (1988) (Li et al, 2000) and as ‘Vulnerable’ in the China Red List (Wang and Xie, 2004). It is listed on CITES Appendix III (India). It has been recorded in many protected areas (Duckworth, 1997; Mudappa, 2002; Su Su, 2005).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Small Indian civets can bite if cornered or if captured in self-defense. Although rare, they can carry rabies, which is potentially deadly for other animals and humans. Small Indian civets are fond of eating chickens when living in close proximity to humans and can eat small household pets. As a result they are considered pestd in some areas.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (bites or stings, carries human disease); causes or carries domestic animal disease ; household pest

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Small Indian civets eat disease-causing pests, especially mice and rats and are sometimes sold as pets to control rodents. Many native peoples keep small Indian civets to harvest the civet oil that these animals produce from special glands near their genitals. Their pelts are sold as exotic fur.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food ; body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Small Indian civet

The small Indian civet (Viverricula indica) is a civet found in South and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Least Concern by IUCN because of its widespread geographical distribution, widespread habitat use and healthy populations living in agricultural and secondary landscapes of many range states.[1]

The small Indian civet is a monotypic genus.[2]

Characteristics[edit]

The small Indian civet is 21 to 23 in (53 to 58 cm) in head and body size and has a rather coarse fur that is brownish grey to pale yellowish brown, with usually several longitudinal black or brown bands on the back and longitudinal rows of spots on the sides. In some specimens both lines and spots are indistinct, and the dorsal bands are occasionally wanting. Usually there are five or six distinct bands on the back and four or five rows of spots on each side. The neck markings are rather variable. Generally there are two dark stripes from behind the ear to the shoulders, and often a third in front, crossing the throat. The underfur is brown or grey, often grey on the upper parts of the body and brown on the lower. The grey hairs on the upper parts are often tipped with black. The head is grey or brownish grey, the chin often brown. The ears are short and rounded with a dusky mark behind each ear, and one in front of each eye. The feet are brown or black. The tapering tail is 15 to 17 in (38 to 43 cm) long with alternating black and whitish rings, seven to nine of each colour.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Small Indian civets are known to occur in south and central China, Hong Kong, most of India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. No search has been made for recent records from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Peninsular Malaysia, Java or Bali, areas where they were historically recorded. Their current status in Singapore is unclear.[1] They have been introduced to Madagascar.[3]

Small Indian civets have been recorded in semi-evergreen and deciduous forest, mixed deciduous forest, bamboo forest, scrubby areas, grasslands and riverine habitat.[4][5][6]

Distribution of subspecies[edit]

Ecology and behavior[edit]

Small Indian civets are nocturnal, mostly terrestrial and insectivorous.[5] They inhabit holes in the ground, under rocks or in thick bush.[2]

Diet[edit]

They feed on rats, mice, birds, snakes, fruit, roots and carrion.[3] Occasionally they carry off poultry.[2][6]

Reproduction[edit]

The female has usually four or five young at a birth.[2] The life span is eight to nine years.[3]

Threats[edit]

People of Traspur village in Assam hunt it for meat and purify its skin into medicine.[citation needed]

Conservation[edit]

Viverricula indica is listed on CITES Appendix III.[1] In Myanmar, it is totally protected under the Wildlife Act of 1994.[6]

Taxonomic notes[edit]

Viverricula rasse described by Horsfield from Java is considered a variety of Viverricula indica.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Duckworth, J. W., Timmins, R. J. and Muddapa, D. (2008). "Viverricula indica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Blanford, W. T. (1888–91). Genus Viverricula Hodgson. Pages 100–101 in: The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. Taylor and Francis, London.
  3. ^ a b c Lekalul, B. and McNeely, J. A. (1977). Mammals of Thailand. Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok.
  4. ^ Duckworth, J. W. (1997). Small carnivores in Laos: a status review with notes on ecology, behaviour and conservation. Small Carnivore Conservation 16: 1–21.
  5. ^ a b Mudappa, D. (2002). Observations of small carnivores in the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India. Small Carnivore Conservation 27: 4–5.
  6. ^ a b c Su Su. (2005). Small carnivores and their threats in Hlawga Wildlife Park, Myanmar. Small Carnivore Conservation 33: 6–13.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Pocock, R. I. (1939). Genus Viverricula Hodgson. Pages 362–376 in: The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1Taylor and Francis, London.
  8. ^ Ellerman, J. R., Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946. Second edition. British Museum of Natural History, London. Pp. 282–283.
  9. ^ Sody, H. J. V. (1931). Six new mammals from Sumatra, Java, Bali and Borneo. Natuurkundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch-Indië 91: 349–360.
  10. ^ Horsfield, T. (1851). A catalogue of the Mammalia in the Museum of the Hon. East-India Company. J. & H. Cox, London.
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