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dnaoodb: professional biology database , biology encyclopedia

in biology, Viverridae (Alias:Viverrids) is a family of small to medium-sized, feliform mammals. Viverridae is a mammal in the phylum Chordata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, and Viverridae. 

The viverrids comprise 33 species placed in 14 genera. This family was named and first described by John Edward Gray in 1821. Viverrids occur all over Africa, southern Europe, and South and Southeast Asia, across the Wallace Line.

The name comes from the Latin word viverra, meaning "ferret", but ferrets are in a different family, the Mustelidae.

Viverrids secretions can be made into spices, called Viverrids incense, which is a valuable medicinal material with similar therapeutic effects to musk. It can also be used as a fixative for high-grade spices. Viverrids skin is a precious and fine fur that can be made into gorgeous decorations. Viverrids meat is edible, delicious and has a nourishing effect.

Scientific classification

Protection level:
Named by and Year:
Gray, 1821
Subphylum Vertebrata
Class Mammalia
Mode Of Reproduction:
Reproductive Form:
Sexual Reproduction


The larger species in the family Viverridae are similar to dogs. The smaller species resemble weasels. Body length 200 mm to 800 mm or 1200 mm. Weight is about 1-15 kg. Most species have 5 toes on both the front and rear feet. There are various forms of patches and stripes on the body. Some appear on the head, face and neck (such as painted civets and coconut civets). Big civets, small civets, spotted civets and long-chinned civets are almost all covered with spots. However, a few species such as binturongs and red-cheeked mongoose only have tiny densely packed spots scattered around, without forming large patches or stripes.

Most Viverridae have a perineal gland (scent gland) of varying degrees of development in the perineum. Scent glands are specialized sebaceous glands. The scent glands of long-tailed civets are less developed and are only made up of two superimposed skin flaps with smooth inner walls. Located between the scrotum and penis (males) or the vulva and anus (females). The sachet and the naked area of the external genitalia are in contact with each other. The scent glands of the subfamily Asterinae are similar to those of the subidae, except that the scent sac is located in the anterior and lower parts of the external genitalia rather than in the posterior and upper parts. All species of the civet subfamily (except the spotted civet) have a highly developed sac-like scent gland. The inner wall of the gland cavity is wrinkled and densely covered with hairs. The sachet and external genitalia are separated by a short-haired area. Meerkat species have a short perineum, and only crab-eating mongooses have scent glands, but their anal glands are more developed.

Skull: The skull of Viverridae is long and narrow, with a long and prominent snout. The forehead is narrow and the skull is low and round. The posterior palatine foramen on the oral cavity is located anterior to the maxillopalatine suture. The posterior palatine foramen of all other carnivores is on the maxillopalatal suture, except for Hyena and Hyena. The listening bubble expands, and there is a partition inside to divide the listening bubble into two parts, the front and rear. The posterior wall of the auditory vesicle is covered by the accessory occipital process. Except for the subfamily Meerkatinae, the paraoccipital process is higher than the posterior edge of the auditory vesicle. Only the supraorbital process and the zygomatic process of the subfamily Meerkats are extremely developed, and the two meet each other to form a closed bony orbital ring. No other Viverridae form bony orbital rings.

Teeth: Typical tooth pattern is: =40. The incisor teeth are arranged in a semicircle, with the mongoose and small-toothed civets in a straight line. The premolars are sparsely arranged and spaced. Both the upper and lower cleft teeth have well-developed proto-tips, and the lower cleft teeth also have bases extending backward. The molars are relatively vestigial, and the inner edges of the upper molars are significantly narrower than the outer edges, making them different from other carnivores.

Origin And Evolution

Viverrids are the most primitive group of modern carnivores and are generally believed to have originated in Africa. Viverrids evolved from the most primitive neo-carnivorous species, Macythesia. The earliest fossils of Viverrids were found in the late Eocene and early Oligocene of the Tertiary Period. The modern living species of Viverrids (Mediterranean Seaweed) is close to the backbone that gave rise to all species of Viverrids. They are also small forest-dwelling animals, and their limbs, skulls, and teeth are similar to those of the most primitive groups. The body has spots and the scent gland is only a slightly concave skin fold. According to Cobert (1959) analysis: Viverrids have produced adaptive radiation in different directions since their occurrence in the late Eocene. It is roughly divided into three branches: the largest one is the various Viverrids and civets in Asia and Africa; the other is the Viverrids of Madagascar, which is like a cat but not a cat. This is a Viverrids animal that is very close to the ancestors of primitive cats; the third branch is It's the mongoose. Simpson (1995) believes that Viverrids all have a relatively consistent phylogenetic lineage, but include many different evolutionary lines, thus having many different taxonomic levels. In fact, the first large branch, which includes most species, still has diverse ancestors and evolutionary lines. The cat-like Prionodon, the ground-dwelling Viverrids (Viverrinae), and the arboreal Paradoxurinae (Paradoxurinae), which resemble cats because they have no scent glands, all have their morphological structures and lifestyles reflected in their ontogeny and phylogeny. , are also different.

Possibly, because most of the Viverrids live in tropical forests and forest edges, their skeletons are rarely preserved as fossils. However, comparison of a few Viverrids fossils with modern living Viverrids proves that they have not evolved much since the Tertiary Period. !The living species still maintain many of the ancient traits of primitive carnivores.


Viverridae is a family endemic to the Old World. Not found in Oceania and the New World. They were found in much of Europe, Asia and Africa at the end of the Tertiary and the beginning of the Quaternary. However, living species are currently only distributed in Africa, the Mediterranean coast and southern Asia.

Fossils of Viverrids in ancient my country were discovered in the Tungur area of Inner Mongolia. But the vast majority of living species now only live in the Qinling Mountains, the Yangtze River Basin and the provinces and regions south of it. The distribution of species of the genus Viverridae in my country, both in terms of species and quantity, is more in the west than in the east, in the north less than in the south, and in the same area there are more low-altitude areas than high-altitude areas. The low-altitude areas of southern Yunnan and southwestern Guangxi, which are located in the southwest corner of my country, have the largest number of species and species. Almost all Viverridae species in my country are found. Among them, small-toothed civets, binturongs, long-jawed civets and large-spotted Viverrids are only found in this area.

Most Viverrids feed on rats, insects, etc. as their main food. It plays a certain role in the prevention and control of farmland rodents, insect pests and diseases. Meerkats are the natural enemies of venomous snakes. The mainly arboreal Viverrids are somewhat harmful to a variety of fruits (such as peaches, pears, coconuts, pineapples, bananas, etc.). In northern Sichuan, civet cats can still damage corn and cotton bolls. Various Viverrids can also sneak into villages to steal chickens and ducks.