Temporal range: Eocene to Recent
|Viverrids, including (top left to bottom right), species of Paradoxurus, Genetta, Paguma and Arctictis|
- African civet
- Angolan genet
- Asian palm civet
- Brown palm civet
Many viverrids are civet cats, such as the genera Vivera, Civettictis and Viverricula. The term refers to their noticeable and (to us) unpleasant scent. It is sometimes used for other cats which happen to be rather smelly.
Vivverrids of the genus Genetta are known as 'genets', and there is another genus, Poiana, which are called 'linsangs'. The genet Genetta genetta is the only viverid to live in Europe. It is the striped-tail one at top right in the illustration above.
Viverrids are the most basal ('primitive') of all the families of cat-like animals and less specialized than the Felidae. Their skeletons are similar to those of fossils dating back to the Eocene, up to 50 million years ago.
In external characters, they are distinguished from the Felidae by the hind foot being five-toed and typically by the longer muzzle and shorter limbs. The skull differs as does the dental formula. They have anal glands which may secrete a strong odour. Many species have striped tails.
Civets and SARS
On January 13, 2004 the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an an embargo on the importation of Civets into the United States. They said that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus was found in Civets from China.
Images for kids
Binturong (Arctictis binturong) on display at the Museum of Osteology
Viverridae Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.