Viverra is a mammalian genus that was first nominated and described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 as comprising several species including the large Indian civet. The genus was subordinated to the viverrid family by John Edward Gray in 1821.
Viverra species are distinguished externally from the other genera of the Viverrinae by the structure of the fore feet, of which the 3rd and 4th digits are provided with lobes of skin, which act as protective sheaths for the retractile claws. They have a long and narrow skull, with narrow, nearly parallel-sided, not strongly constricted waist. The postorbital processes are small and a little in front of the middle point between the tip of the premaxillae in front and of the occipital crest behind. The sagittal crest is moderately strong in the adult. The sub-orbital portion of the cheek is comparatively short, the suture between the anterior bone of the zygomatic arch and the maxilla being much shorter than the median length of the nasals, than half the length of the cheek-teeth, and than the width across the occipital condyles, this width exceeding the length of the compound auditory bulla.