Large Indian Civet

Civet Cat, Viverra zibetha



The Large Indian Civet Cat

The large Indian civet is a species which lives all over the Indochinese Peninsula and additionally in south China, northeast India, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Their habitats are tropical rainforests, other forests, savannah and grassland. Often they come close to human settlements. Civets are of the family of cats. They are spread into 15 civet genera and 38 species.

'Large Indian Civet Cat' by Asienreisender

A male, large Indian civet. I found the poor fellow in a cage at Wat Sri Koon Muang in Nong Bua Lamphu, north Isan. His habitate are certainly the closeby Phu Chan Mountains. Either he came close to a human settlement or he was trapped in the forest. I am most suspicious of that he is/was doomed to end in a special restaurant or as Chinese medicine. And he knows that he has a serious problem, you can bet one, because he's an intelligent and sensitive animal. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2016

These cats gain a length of about 80cm with a tail length of 45cm and a shoulder height of up to 40cm. They grow up to eleven kilograms. Their head is somewhat pointed.



In daytime the Large Indian civet sleeps in dense bushes, grass or abandoned burrows who have been dug by other animals. They live solitary and are active at night. Usually they stay on the ground, but can climb as well.

Like other cats, the civets are rather carnivorous and feeding from birds and bird eggs, smaller snakes, frogs, fish, crabs and small mammals like mice. It can happen that civets prey on fowl kept by farmers. Additionally they eat some fruits and roots.

Female Large Indian civets give birth in their hideouts once or twice a year, and usually to two to four 'kittens' each. After ten days the babies open their eyes and are weaned after a month already (whereas house cats are weaned after three months). A civet's live expectation is estimated of 15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.

There are reported cases that civet cats and humans can shape good relations.



Large Indian Civet by Schreber, 1780

Sketch of a Large Indian Civet by Johann Christian Daniel Schreber, 1780. Slightly processed by Asienreisender, 2/2016

Civets produce a strong musk-like smell with a gland beneath their anus. They use the excretions to mark their territory. It seems that they are tolerant against other civets who enter their territory. These territories are small and seldom extend 5km2.

Their musk is used by the perfume industries to produce a certain fragrance which is called 'civet'. However, the trend is to replace the civet's secret by chemical substitutes, because it's cheaper.

The Large Indian civet is listed as 'Near Threatened' since 2008. Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and heavy trap poaching reduce their number in all the countries they live. There has been an industry established to catch and deliver civets for the market of Chinese medicine. One has to add that these medical effects, if anyway, at best happen in the imagination of those who use it. It's just another bogus. In 2003 it came to a bird flu crisis in Guangzhou / China, which was seen as caused by the great amount of civets who were held there in cages under unhygienic circumstances.

'A Civet in a Cage in Krabi' by Asienreisender

A civet in a cage in Krabi, apparently a young animal. Looks scared, and has certainly all reason for... Image by Asienreisender, 9/2010

Civets are also hunted for their meat as a diet for villagers and for their furs.

These civets are officially fully protected in Malaysia (Malay: musang kasturi), they are also protected in Thailand (Thai: chamot phaeng hang plong), Vietnam and Burma/Myanmar. However, paper is patient...

Civets are used by certain coffee producers in Sumatra to graft coffee. The animals are (force) fed with raw coffee fruits of who are the fruity part is digested and the beans dropped out and are recollected then from the excrements. After the beans have passed through the civet's digest system, the coffee gains a more mellow taste. A cup of this coffee rises highest market prices up to 50 British pounds in London. The higest price, however, pay the cats who are kept in depriving circumstances for their livetime. Also the industrially forced diet is all but healthy for them. Luwak Coffee got is't name from the Indonesian name of the civet cat.

The Large Indian Civet Cat

'Large Indian Civet Cat' by Asienreisender

Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 1/2/2016

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Published on March 1st, 2016

255 | Indian Civet

Last update on June 21st, 2016