Viverridae is a family of small to medium-sized mammals, the viverrids (/vaɪˈvɛrɪdz/), comprising 15 genera, which are subdivided into 38 species. This family was named and first described by John Edward Gray in 1821. Members of this family are commonly called civets or genets. Viverrids are found in South and Southeast Asia, across the Wallace Line, all over Africa, and into southern Europe. Their occurrence in Sulawesi and in some of the adjoining islands shows them to be ancient inhabitants of the Old World tropics.
|Viverrids, including (top left to bottom right), species of Paradoxurus, Genetta, Paguma and Arctictis|
Viverrids have four or five toes on each foot and half-retractile claws. They have six cutting teeth in each jaw and true grinders with two tubercular grinders behind in the upper jaw, and one in the lower jaw. The tongue is rough with sharp prickles. A pouch or gland occurs beneath the anus, but there is no cecum.
Viverrids are the most primitive of all the families of feliform Carnivora and clearly less specialized than the Felidae (cats). In external characteristics, they are distinguished from the Felidae by the longer muzzle and tuft of facial vibrissae between the lower jaw bones, and by the shorter limbs and the five-toed hind foot with the first digit present. The skull differs by the position of the postpalatine foramina on the maxilla, almost always well in advance of the maxillopalatine suture, and usually about the level of the second premolar; and by the distinct external division of the auditory bulla into its two elements either by a definite groove or, when rarely this is obliterated, by the depression of the tympanic bone in front of the swollen entotympanic. The typical dental formula is: 188.8.131.52, but the number may be reduced, although never to the same extent as in the Felidae.
Their flesh-shearing carnassial teeth are relatively undeveloped. Most viverrid species have a penis bone (a baculum). Viverrids range in size from the African linsang with a body length of 33 cm (13 in) and a weight of 650 g (1.43 lb) to the African civet at 84 cm (33 in) and 18 kg (40 lb), although very large binturongs, which can weigh up to 25 kg (55 lb), attain the greatest mass.
Favored habitats include woodland, savanna, mountains, and above all tropical rainforest. Due to heavy deforestation, many face severe habitat loss. Several species, such as the Hose's palm civet, which is endemic to northern Borneo, are considered vulnerable. The otter civet is classified as endangered.
In 1821, Gray defined this family as consisting of the genera Viverra, Genetta, Herpestes, and Suricata. Reginald Innes Pocock later redefined the family as containing a great number of highly diversified genera, and being susceptible of division into several subfamilies, based mainly on the structure of the feet and of some highly specialized scent glands, derived from the skin, which are present in most of the species and are situated in the region of the external generative organs. He subordinated the subfamilies Hemigalinae, Paradoxurinae, Prionodontinae, and Viverrinae to the Viverridae.
The Viverridae consist of:
Some authorities are of the opinion that the subfamily Prionodontinae, which consists of two extant species of Asiatic linsangs in the genus Prionodon, should be regarded as a family in its own right.
In 1833, Edward Turner Bennett described the Malagasy fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) and subordinated the Cryptoprocta to the Viverridae. A molecular and morphological analysis based on DNA/DNA hybridization experiments suggests that Cryptoprocta does not belong within Viverridae, but is a member of the Eupleridae.
The African palm civet (Nandinia binotata) resembles the civets of the Viverridae, but is genetically distinct and belongs in its own monotypic family, the Nandiniidae. There is little dispute that the Poiana species are viverrids.
The following cladogram shows the phylogenetic relationships for the revised Viverridae, based on the molecular genetics study of Gaubert & Cordeiro-Estrela (2006), with additional species placed according to the supertree study of Nyakatura & Bininda-Emonds (2012).
The aquatic genet (Genetta piscivora) is a genet that has only been recorded in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since it is only known from about 30 specimens in zoological collections, it had been listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List since 1996, as it is considered one of Africa's rarest carnivores. In 2015, it has been reassessed as Near Threatened.When Allen described the aquatic genet as a new genus and species in 1919, he named it Osbornictis piscivora. It was reassessed in 2004, and based on molecular evidence is now considered a Genetta species.Asiatic linsang
The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.Bourlon's genet
Bourlon's genet (Genetta bourloni) is a genet species native to the Upper Guinean forests. It is known from only 29 zoological specimens in natural history museum and has been described as a new Genetta species in 2003.
It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as the global population is estimated at less than 10,000 mature individuals.Cape genet
The Cape genet (Genetta tigrina), also known as the South African large-spotted genet, is a genet species endemic to South Africa. As it is common and not threatened, it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
Like other genets, it is nocturnal and arboreal, preferring to live in the riparian zones of forests, as long as these are not marshy areas.Carnivora
Carnivora (; from Latin carō (stem carn-) "flesh" and vorāre "to devour") is a diverse scrotiferan order that includes over 280 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, whereas the word "carnivore" (often popularly applied to members of this group) can refer to any meat-eating organism. Carnivorans are the most diverse in size of any mammalian order, ranging from the least weasel (Mustela nivalis), at as little as 25 g (0.88 oz) and 11 cm (4.3 in), to the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), which can weigh up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb), to the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), whose adult males weigh up to 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) and measure up to 6.7 m (22 ft) in length.
Carnivorans have teeth and claws adapted for catching and eating other animals. Many hunt in packs and are social animals, giving them an advantage over larger prey. Some carnivorans, such as cats and pinnipeds, depend entirely on meat for their nutrition. Others, such as raccoons and bears, are more omnivorous, depending on the habitat. The giant panda is largely a herbivore, but also feeds on fish, eggs and insects. The polar bear subsists mainly on seals.
Carnivorans are split into two suborders: Feliformia ("catlike") and Caniformia ("doglike").Civet
A civet is a small, lithe-bodied, mostly nocturnal mammal native to tropical Asia and Africa, especially the tropical forests. The term civet applies to over a dozen different mammal species. Most of the species diversity is found in southeast Asia. The best-known civet species is the African civet, Civettictis civetta, which historically has been the main species from which was obtained a musky scent used in perfumery. The word civet may also refer to the distinctive musky scent produced by the animals.
A minority of writers use "civet" to refer only to Civettictis, Viverra and Viverricula civets. But in more common usage in English, the name also covers Chrotogale, Cynogale, Diplogale, Hemigalus, Arctogalidia, Macrogalidia, Paguma, and Paradoxurus civets.Euplerinae
Euplerinae, more commonly known as malagasy civets, is a subfamily of carnivorans that includes four species restricted to Madagascar. Together with the subfamily Galidiinae, which also only occurs on Madagascar, it forms the family Eupleridae. Members of this subfamily, which include the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), falanoucs (Eupleres goudotii and Eupleres major) and Malagasy civet (Fossa fossana), were placed in families like Felidae and Viverridae before genetic data indicated their consanguinity with other Madagascar carnivorans. Within the subfamily, the falanouc and Malagasy civet are more closely related to each other than to the fossa.Feliformia
Feliformia (also Feloidea) is a suborder within the order Carnivora consisting of "cat-like" carnivorans, including cats (large and small), hyenas, mongooses, civets, and related taxa. Feliformia stands in contrast to the other suborder of Carnivora, Caniformia ("dog-like" carnivorans).
The separation of the Carnivora into the broad groups of feliforms and caniforms is widely accepted, as is the definition of Feliformia and Caniformia as suborders (sometimes superfamilies). The classification of feliforms as part of the Feliformia suborder or under separate groupings continues to evolve.
Systematic classifications dealing with only extant taxa include all feliforms into the Feliformia suborder, though variations exist in the definition and grouping of families and genera. Indeed, molecular phylogenies suggest that all extant Feliformia are monophyletic.The extant families as reflected in the taxa chart at right and the discussions in this article reflect the most contemporary and well-supported views (as at the time of writing this article).
Systematic classifications dealing with both extant and extinct taxa vary more widely. Some separate the feliforms (extant and extinct) as: Aeluroidea (superfamily) and Feliformia (suborder). Others include all feliforms (extant, extinct and "possible ancestors") into the Feliformia suborder. Some studies suggest this inclusion of "possible ancestors" into Feliformia (or even Carnivora) may be spurious. The extinct (†) families as reflected in the taxa chart are the least problematic in terms of their relationship with extant feliforms (with the most problematic being Nimravidae).Galidiinae
Galidiinae is a subfamily of carnivorans that is restricted to Madagascar and includes six species classified into four genera. Together with the three other species of indigenous Malagasy carnivorans, including the fossa, they are currently classified in the family Eupleridae within the suborder Feliformia. Galidiinae are the smallest of the Malagasy carnivorans, generally weighing about 600 to 900 g. They are agile, short-legged animals with long, bushy tails.In some of these characters, they resemble the mongooses (family Herpestidae) of continental Africa and southern Eurasia, with which they were classified until 2006, and accordingly they are said to be "mongoose-like" or even described as "Malagasy mongooses".Genet (animal)
A genet (pronounced or ) is a member of the genus Genetta, which consists of 14 to 17 species of small African carnivorans.
Genet fossils from the Pliocene have been found in Morocco. The common genet is the only genet present in Europe and occurs in the Iberian Peninsula and France.Haussa genet
The Haussa genet (Genetta thierryi) is a genet species native to West African savannas. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.Haussa genets have been sighted in Senegal's wooded steppes, in moist woodlands in Guinea-Bissau, and in rainforest in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Ivory Coast.Hemigalinae
The Hemigalinae are a subfamily of the viverrids denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864. This subfamily comprises the four monospecific genera:
The Malay civet (Viverra tangalunga), also known as the Malayan civet and Oriental civet, is a viverrid native to the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra, Bangka, Borneo, the Riau Archipelago, and the Philippines. It is listed as "Least Concern" by IUCN as it is a relatively widely distributed, appears to be tolerant of degraded habitats, and occurs in a number of protected areas.Mesocarnivore
A mesocarnivore is an animal whose diet consists of 30–70% meat with the balance consisting of non-vertebrate foods which may include fungi, fruits, and other plant material. Mesocarnivores are seen today among the Canidae (coyotes, foxes), Viverridae (civets), Mustelidae (martens, tayra), Procyonidae (ringtail, raccoon), Mephitidae (skunks), and Herpestidae (some mongooses).Mongoose
Mongoose is the popular English name for 29 of the 34 species in the 14 genera of the family Herpestidae, which are small feliform carnivorans native to southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. The other five species (all African) in the family are the four kusimanses in the genus Crossarchus, and the species Suricata suricatta, commonly called meerkat in English.
Six species in the family Eupleridae are endemic to the island of Madagascar. These are called "mongoose" and were originally classified as a genus within the family Herpestidae, but genetic evidence has since shown that they are more closely related to other Madagascar carnivorans in the family Eupleridae; they have been classified in the subfamily Galidiinae within Eupleridae since 2006.
Herpestidae is placed within the suborder Feliformia, together with the cat, hyena, and Viverridae families.Paradoxurinae
The Paradoxurinae are a subfamily of the viverrids that was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864.Pocock subordinated the oriental genera Paradoxurus, Paguma and Arctictis to this subfamily.Poiana (genus)
The African linsangs also known as oyans are two species classified in the mammalian subfamily Viverrinae, in the family Viverridae. There is one genus, Poiana.
Both linsang genera (Poiana and the Asian Prionodon) were formerly placed in the subfamily Viverrinae (of Viverridae), along with several other genera, but recent research suggests that their actual relationships may be somewhat different. The linsangs are remarkable for their morphological resemblance to cats, family Felidae, which is greater than in the other viverrids. As the relationship between linsangs and cats was thought to be rather distant (the two groups belonging to different families within the superfamily Feliformia), this was considered an example of convergent evolution. However, DNA analysis indicates that while the African linsangs (Poiana) are true viverrids closely related to the genets, the Asiatic linsangs (Prionodon) are not and may instead be the closest living relatives of the family Felidae. The similarities between Asiatic linsangs and cats are thus more likely to be due to common ancestry, while the similarities between the two genera of linsangs must be convergent.
The name linsang is from Javanese linsang or wlinsang, which used to be wrongly translated as "otter" in English dictionaries. Linsangs are nocturnal, generally solitary tree dwellers. They are carnivorous, eating squirrels and other rodents, small birds, lizards and insects. Typical size is a little over 30 cm (1 foot), with a tail that more than doubles that length. Bodies are long, with short legs, giving a low appearance. Both species have yellowish bodies with black markings (stripes, blotches and spots), though the distribution and nature of the markings varies between the two species.
The species of African linsangs are:
Poiana leightoni - West African oyan
Poiana richardsonii - Central African oyanViverrinae
The Viverrinae represent the largest subfamily within the Viverridae comprising five genera, which are subdivided into 22 species native to Africa and Southeast Asia. This subfamily was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864.Viverroidea
Viverroidea is an infraorder of feliformia, containing both the family Viverridae, and the superfamily Herpestoidea.
Extant Carnivora species