Small Indian Civets (Viverricula indica): Ringtails of India, Southeast Asia, and Southern China

by DerdriuMarriner

Small Indian civets are tinier than large Indian civets. They do not live just in India. Native East, South and Southeast Asians like small Indian civet flesh, fragrance, and fur.

Being savvy, silent, small, and speedy can be a winning hand to play in captivity and in the wild. All four attributes characterize small Indian civets. They contribute to the civet in question’s conservation status as least concerned over current and future threats to:
• Community survival and population sustainability as a species;
• Life cycles and natural histories as environmental obligates.

For example, savviness directs the small Indian civet’s adaptability to environmental changes. Silence facilitates the small Indian civet’s routine of day-time dozing and night-time foraging. Smallness guides small Indian civets along escape routes and into hiding places. Speediness generally helps them:
• Elude predatory raptors and reptiles;
• Vanquish prey through fast pouncing, quick neck-bites, and rapid spinal damage.

Small Indian Civet, under synonym of Viverra pallida: 1/2 natural length, specimen from China ~

illustration by Major-General Thomas Hardwicke (c. 1755/1756 – March 3, 1835)
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology, Vol. II (1833-1834), Plate 6
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology, Vol. II (1833-1834), Plate 6

 

Mammals additionally can be included among the small Indian civet’s predators. Small Indian civets do not represent the only civets in their East, South, and Southeast Asian distributional ranges. They generally experience no problems in bio-geographical overlaps with:

  • Fellow small Indian civets;
  • Non-human, predatory mammals;
  • Sympatric (“same-ranging”) Asian civets.

They typically fine-tune:

  • Anticipating and retiring from interactions before clashes begin;
  • Claiming different niches within habitats jointly occupied with or traversed by such competitors as semi-sympatric and sympatric civet species in particular and viverrid (“ferret-like”) species in general;
  • Demarcating home and territory ranges as overlapping for opposite-gender -- and separate for same-gender -- small Indian civets.

Avoidance, elusion, and reclusion usually mean peaceful co-existence. Exceptions sometimes surface regarding humans.

 

Small Indian Civet (Viverricula indica), under synonym of Viverra malaccensis:

illustration by Pierre Sonnerat (August 18, 1748 – March 31, 1814)
Johann Christian Daniel Schreber, Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur: Plates 81 - 165 (1774-1846), Plate CXIIB
Johann Christian Daniel Schreber, Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur: Plates 81 - 165 (1774-1846), Plate CXIIB

 

Locals and outsiders account for human-involved interactions with small Indian civets. They generally assume the roles of:

  • Developers;
  • Hunters;
  • Scientists;
  • Tourists;
  • Traders;
  • Vacationers;
  • Villagers.

Interactions typically emerge along East, South, and Southeast Asia’s ever-expanding urban and ever-shrinking wildland interfaces. They usually have as their consequences for historically ubiquitous small Indian civet populations:

  • Captivity or death for extraction of civetone, a musky liquid disfiguringly and painfully scraped from civet scent glands for distillation and stabilization of luxury perfumes and traditional medicines;
  • Domestication for pest-control of rampant arthropods and small mammals and seed-dispersing of orchard fruits;
  • Homelessness and relocation from lands clear-cut and dug-up for agro-industrial, residential, and roadway expansions;
  • Slaughter for bush-meat marketers, fine-dining restaurateurs, and village-ritual fur-tailors.

 

Small Indian Civet (Viverricula indica) range

Color Code: Green = extant; Pink = probably extant
Distribution data from IUCN Red List
Distribution data from IUCN Red List

 

Biology favors small Indian civets. Bio-geography hides them. Scientists identify multiple subspecies-supportive homelands:

  • Bhutan

Viverricula indica baptistae (Reginald Innes Pocock [March 4, 1863 – August 9, 1947], 1933);

  • Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam

V.i. thai (Cecil Boden Kloss [March 28, 1877 – August 19, 1949], 1919);

  • China

V.i. pallida (John Edward Gray [February 12, 1800 – March 7, 1875], 1831);

V.i. thai;

  • India

V.i. baptistae

V.i. deserti (John Lewis Bonhote [June 13, 1875 – October 10, 1922], 1898);

V.i. indica (Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire [April 15, 1772 – June 19, 1844], 1803);

V.i. wellsi (Pocock);

  • Indonesia (Henri Jacob Sody [August 31, 1892 – January 16, 1959], 1931);

V.i. atchinensis

V.i. baliensis

V.i. muriavensis

Sri Lanka (Pocock)

V.i. klossi

V.i. mayori;  

  • Taiwan

V.i. pallida.

 

Small Indian Civet subspecies: Viverra bengalensis

illustration by Major-General Thomas Hardwicke (c. 1755/1756 – March 3, 1835)
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology, Vol. I
John Edward Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology, Vol. I

 

Sympatry clusters:

  • Asian palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) – Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam;  
  • Banded palm civets (Hemigalus derbyanus) – Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand;
  • Brown (Paradoxurus montanus), dry-zone (stenocephalus), wet-zone (aureus) palm civets -- Sri Lanka;
  • Gem-faced (Paguma larvata), small-toothed (Arctogalidia trivirgata) palm civets – Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam;  
  • Jerdon’s (Paradoxurus jerdoni), Malabar (Viverra civettina) civets -- India;  
  • Large Indian civets (Viverra zibetha) – Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam;  
  • Large-spotted civets (Viverra megaspila) – Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam;  
  • Malay civets (Viverra tangalunga) – Indonesia, Malaysia;  
  • Otter civets (Cynogale bennettii) – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand;
  • Owston’s palm civets (Chrotogale owstoni) – China, Laos, Vietnam.

Niches differ. Physiques do too.

 

Small Indian Civet's native landscapes in Vietnam's Central Highlands: a series of plateaus surrounded by South Annamite Range

Đông Sơn village, Hòa Hiệp commune, Cư Kuin District, Đắk Lắk Province, Central Highlands, south-central Vietnam
Đông Sơn village, Hòa Hiệp commune, Cư Kuin District, Đắk Lắk Province, Central Highlands, south-central Vietnam

 

Asia’s civets articulate different niches within different tree-dominated habitats. For example, small Indian civets attribute importance to:

  • Deciduous, open-canopy forests;
  • Forest edges.

They avoid the closed-canopy, dense-covered, old-growth evergreen rainforests prioritized by:

  • Banded palm civets;
  • Jerdon’s brown palm civets;
  • Small-toothed palm civets.

They choose mixed deciduous over semi-evergreen forests. Their adaptability equals that of:

  • Asian palm and otter civets to selectively logged forests;
  • Asian palm, large Indian, Malay, and otter civets to secondary forests;
  • Gem-faced masked palm civets to disturbed forests;
  • Large Indian and Malabar large-spotted civets to plantations;
  • Large-spotted civets to grasslands and riverine galley forests;
  • Otter and Owston’s banded palm civets to bamboo forests;
  • Sri Lankan brown, dry-zone, and wet-zone palm civets to wooded lowlands.

 

Small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), upper two skins de-haired.

Fur skin collection, Bundes-Pelzfachschule, Frankfurt/Main, southwestern Germany
Fur skin collection, Bundes-Pelzfachschule, Frankfurt/Main, southwestern Germany

 

Small Indian civets have:

  • Brown-yellow-grey fur;
  • Darkened lower-limbs;
  • 5+ dark, longitudinal, mid-dorsal bands;
  • Flanks with 4+ dark-spotted longitudinal rows;
  • 3 neck-and-shoulder stripes;
  • 20 clawed digits.

Their brown-grey heads highlight:

  • Dusky patches behind close-set, rounded ears and under dark-adapted, vertical-pupilled eyes;
  • Long, super-sensory whiskers;
  • Narrow, short muzzles.

Their tapering tails sequence 14 – 18 black-and-white rings. Their mature head-tail physiques showcase:

  • Dentition -- 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars, 8 molars;
  • Ear lengths -- 1 – 1.5 inches (2.54 – 3.81 centimeters);
  • Head-and-body lengths -- 20.87 – 22.84 inches (53 – 58 centimeters);
  • Hind-paw lengths – 4 inches (10.16 centimeters);
  • Shoulder heights -- 9.05 inches (23 centimeters);
  • Tail lengths -- 14.96 – 16.93 inches (38 – 43 centimeters);
  • Weights -- 4.96 – 6.06 pounds (2.25 – 2.75 kilograms).

 

Small Indian Civet subspecies, Viverricula malaccensis, also known as Viverricula indica muriavensis, southern Java

Collection of Tropenmuseum,  Royal Tropical Institute (Dutch: Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen), Amsterdam
Collection of Tropenmuseum, Royal Tropical Institute (Dutch: Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen), Amsterdam

Conclusion

 

Adaptability, bravery, elusiveness, faithfulness, practicality, and quickness accommodate small Indian civet survival and sustainability. Small Indian civets adapt to expanding urban and shrinking wildland interfaces in agro-industry’s fragmented scrublands. They articulate courage around projectile- and snare-wielding meat, musk, and pelt hunters. They commit to elusiveness by:

  • Avoiding home-invaders and predators;
  • Communicating by scent;
  • Denning in camouflaged burrows and hollow logs;
  • Foraging nightly for fruits, insects, roots and small birds, mammals, and reptiles;
  • Perfecting arboreal climbs.

They communicate faithfulness in:

  • Raising yearly litters of 2+ furry offspring for weaning within 4 months;
  • Serving as affectionately loyal pets.

They convey practicality in:

  • Controlling pests;
  • Dispersing seeds.

They manage super-fast, super-safe forays. They merit:

  • Governmental protection;
  • Scientific research;
  • Wildlife-loving awareness.

 

Viverra schlegeli, Small Indian Civet subspecies on Madagascar and on Mayotte, an archipelago in northern Mozambique Channel between between northwest Madagascar and northeast Mozambique ~

Small Indian Civet's territorial expansion includes introduction off Africa's southeastern coast on the island country of Madagascar, where Small Indian Civets compete with the endemic Malagasy Civet.
F.P.L. Pollen and D.C. van Dam. Recherches sur la faune de Madagascar, 2ème partie (1868), Plate 10, after p. 186
F.P.L. Pollen and D.C. van Dam. Recherches sur la faune de Madagascar, 2ème partie (1868), Plate 10, after p. 186

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Kalawedda - Small Indian civet (Viverricula indica)

Published on YouTube on July 17, 2013 by Colombo Pictures ~ URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5oDbTzX30s

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Sparse accommodations for Small Indian Civets in native, greatly developed ecosystem of Hong Kong, a world city and commercial-financial powerholder

View from Lugard Road at Victoria Peak, western Hong Kong Island
View from Lugard Road at Victoria Peak, western Hong Kong Island
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Updated: 09/27/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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