Civets and mongooses are carnivores, more primitive than Dogs or cats, belonging to the Family Viverridae. They share a common ancestor and probably originated in Africa 30 million years ago in the Oligocene.
Civets are medium-sized carnivores of Africa and Asia with long bodies and relatively short legs. Most species have stripes, spots, or bands on their bodies, and their tails are often ringed with contrasting colors. Their claws are retractile. Most have perianal (not anal) glands that produce a strong-smelling substance; in some species, the odor is sufficiently potent to ward off predators. The secretion, called civet, is used as a perfume base and medicine.
Mystery civets: A civet in Ceram, Indonesia, apparently with an 18-inch tail covered in fur with dark rings, was found by Tyson Hughes in 1986. Locals describe the animal as half dog, half cat. There are no known civets in Ceram.
Two unusual civet specimens have been reported by Dr. Pham Nhat in Lao Cai Province, Vietnam.
Sightings of a wild dog-like animal in Java, Indonesia, called the Anjing hutan and thought to be the Dhole (Cuon alpinus), have been shown in some instances to be a surviving population of the Sulawesi palm civet (Macrogalidia musschen-broeki), thought extinct since the 1940s.
Mongooses typically have pointed heads, long tails, and thick hair, except on the lower legs. Indian mongooses of the genus Herpestes are used by snake charmers to entertain tourists with cobra shows. Though not completely immune to cobra venom, the mongoose's speed, agility, and erectile fur usually make the snake miss its mark.
Mystery mongooses: An odd, gray, musky, ring-tailed animal with a blunt snout that was killed by a dog near Pablo, Montana, in 1980 may have been an escaped pet mongoose of some kind. However, importation of these animals is tightly controlled. There are no known indigenous viverrids in North America.
The Malagasy cryptid bckyboky is probably the Narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictus de-cemlineata).
Sources: Karl Shuker, "Menagerie of
Mystery," Strange Magazine, no. 16 (Fall 1995): 28-33, 48-49; Karl Shuker, "A Surfeit of Civets?" Fortean Times, no. 102 (September 1997): 17; Chad Arment and Brad LaGrange, "Crypto-Varmints," North American BioFortean Review 2, no. 3 (December 2000): 18-20, http://www.strangeark.com/nabr/ NABR5.pdf.
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