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    CHESTNUT RAT/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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    CHESTNUT RAT 


    DESCRIPTION: India is home to half a dozen species of soft, densely furred, high-altitude rats that are assigned to the genus Niviventer. Nearly all of them are richly coloured on the back, while the underside is white or very pale. The tail is slightly longer than the head and body. Some of the species have spines in the fur, but none of them have guard hairs. The Chestnut Rat has chestnut–brown, tending to reddish upper parts and clear white underparts. Its tail is bicoloured with a dark tip and flexible (N. niviventer has an unfurred tip and holds its tail rather erect). It has a brown stripe on its feet that continues up to the fingers and toes. It has small auditory bullae.

    BEHAVIOUR: Unknown.

    DISTRIBUTION: Foothills of the Himalayas, from the western Himalayas to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

    HABITAT: Evergreen, coniferous and deciduous forests and forests edges.

    Size: 14–16 cm,

    IUCN Status: Least Concern

    INDIAN BUSH RAT/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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    INDIAN BUSH RAT


    DESCRIPTION: Slightly smaller than the House Rat, the Indian Bush Rat differs from the former in many ways. A reddish or yellowish brown rodent, it has a long tail that is brownish above and yellowish grey below. The head is vole-like and eyes are large. Its ears are very large and conch-like, and hairy on the outside, a unique characteristic of this rat, as are the naked and black soles of its hind feet.

    BEHAVIOUR: It burrows under thick bush and makes characteristic pathways from its burrow to its foraging ground. It is arboreal as well as terrestrial by nature and often raids crop fields and coffee estates.

    DISTRIBUTION: Peninsular India, east to western Assam (north of River Brahmaputra).

    HABITAT: Grassland and scrub forests.

    IUCN Status: Least Concern

    Size: 11.4–15.5 cm

    BROWN PALM CIVET/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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     BROWN PALM CIVET


    DESCRIPTION: Superficially, it looks like the Palm Civet without the markings on the face and body, but is more uniformly chocolate–brown: its head, tail and limbs are darker, the shoulders more buff, and the flanks greyer. The tail is longer with a pale tip in many. Its neck hair grows in the opposite direction to the rest of its fur – an adaptation to deter predators.

    BEHAVIOUR: Omnivorous, but mostly frugivorous, depending on rainforest fruits.

    DISTRIBUTION: Western Ghats south of Goa. P.j. jerdoni in Coorg and northern Western Ghats, and P.j. caniscus reported from the Nilgiris, and the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Recent records only from Coorg, Nilgiris, Anamalais, Kalakaad–Mundanthurai and Silent Valley.

    HABITAT: Wet evergreen forests and coffee plantations.

     Size: 43–62 cm

    IUCN   Status: Vulnerable

    SMALL INDIAN CIVET/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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     SMALL INDIAN CIVET


    DESCRIPTION: The common ring-tailed civet, the Small Indian Civet is buff to grey with dark spots all over its flanks that converge to form three to five lines on its back. The black-and-white ringed tail has 6–10 dark bands and a pale tip. This civet lacks a spinal crest (this and its small size sets it apart from the Large Indian or Malabar Civet) and has a cream throat with two thin, dark bands across it. Its ears are small, rounded and set close to each other on top of the head, more like a cat’s, while its legs are dark and long. The general body proportions, however, are not that of a cat and it has the low-slung, elongated body of a civet. It has a short muzzle with white patches on its cheeks and white spots between the eye that are not very prominent in many individuals.

    BEHAVIOUR: Small Indian Civets seem to breed all year round, with 4–5 young. The young are entirely looked after by the female civet and are housed in a small burrow at the bottom of trees or a drainpipe near human habitation. The civet is easily tamed and, historically, was kept in many southern Indian homes as a pet and for yielding ‘civet’. When kept in captivity in this fashion, a stake is put next to the animal on a string. The civet rubs its anal glands on to the stake and the resulting waxy secretion is collected by scraping it off the stake by the houseowners in the morning, for use in medicines and perfumes.

    DISTRIBUTION: Throughout India, from the Himalayan foothills to Kanyakumari in the south. V.i. indica in southern India, V.i. baptistae in north–east India, V.i. deserti in northern and central India, and V.i. wellsi in western India.

    HABITAT: Inhabits a variety of habitats, including semi-evergreen, deciduous, bamboo and scrub forests, open land, plantations and riverine habitat except wet evergreen forests and mountains. It prefers scrub and dry forests to undisturbed

    evergreen patches  (up to 1,200 m). Can live close to habitation and often finds refuge in attics or drainpipes of houses.

     Size: 45–63 cm

    IUCN  Status: Least Concern

    LARGE INDIAN CIVET/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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     LARGE INDIAN CIVET

     


    DESCRIPTION: A large doglike civet with a low-slung body accentuated by short legs, the Large Indian Civet is a greyish beast with buff overtones (but less buff than the Small Indian Civet). The coat can be longer in the winters in the northern part of its range. It can be recognized by its distinctive black and white bands on the sides of the neck. The grey face has white patches on the muzzle. It has distinct black spotting on the flanks, dark limbs and a black-and-white banded tail. It has a dark dorsal crest of varying height running from shoulder to tail, the throat and fore chest are black, and the slightly large ears are widely set on the forehead. The dark and white bands on the tail are broader and fewer in number than in the Small Indian Civet. The forefeet are darker brown than the hind feet. Newborn are black with white markings on the lip, tail, ear and

    throat.

    BEHAVIOUR: Unknown.

    DISTRIBUTION: Dooars in northern West Bengal and north–east India.

    HABITAT: Low hills, moist deciduous and evergreen forests, and near human habitation.

     Size:  58–95 cm

    IUCN  Status: Vulnerable

    MALABAR CIVET/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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     MALABAR CIVET


    DESCRIPTION: The most endangered civet and possibly the most endangered mammal in India, the Malabar Civet was last reported from Kerala in 1990. It can be told apart from the Small Indian Civet by its much larger size and the dark, erectile crest of hair that runs down its spine, much like that of the Large Indian Civet. Unlike the Large Indian Civet, the dark band runs through to the tip of the tail. The underside of the tail has five black and white bands. The black spots on the grey coat do not form lines or patterns, but are splotched randomly. The Malabar Civet is most closely related to the Large Spotted Civet (V. megaspila) of South–East Asia.

    BEHAVIOUR: Though not confirmed, it probably uses fixed places for latrines.

    DISTRIBUTION: In the past, lowland coastal forests of Kerala and Karnataka.

    HABITAT: Highly degraded lowland forests. Also reported from cashew plantations.

     Size: approx. 76 cm,

    IUCN  Status: Critically Endangered

    GREY MONGOOSE/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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     GREYMONGOOSE


    DESCRIPTION: The common Indian Grey Mongoose is the famed animal traditionally used in snake and mongoose shows and has been immortalized as Rikki-Tikki-Tavi in Rudyard Kipling’s story. Its tawny grey fur is much more grizzled and coarser than that of other mongooses and individual hairs have 10 alternate dark and light bands. Its small legs are darker than its body, and its tail is as long as its head and body put together. The tip of the tail is never black but pale yellow or white. The amount of ruddiness in the coat varies in different  subspecies, but all animals are more grey than other mongooses. Males are larger than female.

    BEHAVIOUR: Known for tackling venomous snakes adeptly; however, the animal is a generalist omnivore. All mongooses have excellent colour vision.

    DISTRIBUTION: Throughout India except the high Himalayas. Found up to 2,100 m in the Himalayas. Subspecific distribution needs confirmation, but in literature is as follows: H.e. edwardsii in south–east India, H.e. carnaticus in south–west India, H.e. moerens in eastern, central and north–east India, H.e. pallens in western India, and H.e. montanus in north–west India.

    HABITAT: Open scrub, cultivated land, rocky patches, dry forests and forest edges all over India.

     Size: 36–45 cm

    IUCN  Status: Least Concern

    RUDDY MONGOOSE/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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    RUDDY MONGOOSE


    DESCRIPTION: A large, forest mongoose of peninsular India, the Ruddy Mongoose resembles the Grey Mongoose, but has varying reddish brown infusions on its underparts. The base colour can vary from yellowish brown to ruddy to grey, but it can be easily told apart from the Grey Mongoose by the fact that its tail, which is equal to or slightly larger than the head and body length has a black tip that is carried pointed upwards. Its legs are dark rufous tending to black, especially the hind ones. The feet are partially webbed and the hind feet soles are naked.

    BEHAVIOUR: Mostly terrestrial but can climb trees.

    DISTRIBUTION: Forests of central, western and peninsular India, up to 28°N189 or just south of Delhi in the north and Bihar in the east.

    HABITAT: Dry deciduous and thorn forests  but mostly in undisturbed and secluded areas.

    Size: 39–45 cm

    IUCN  Status: Least Concern

    SMALL INDIAN MONGOOSE/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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    SMALL INDIAN MONGOOSE


    DESCRIPTION: This is a small, olive–brown or dark brown mongoose with golden speckles. It is slender with short legs, and its fur is short and silken. An individual hair, if examined, shows three dark rings and two pale ones. Northern and wetter habitat forms are dark brown with paler paws, while desert forms can have a pale, or even whitish, underside. The ears are small and rounded, the muzzle elongated with a dark nose pad, and the small eyes have a brown iris. Males are larger than females and have a broader head. The taxonomy of the Marsh Mongoose of West Bengal is debated and it may be a subspecies or be accorded full specific status as H. palustris. Either way, it is a smaller creature with black colouring on the muzzle that extends up to the orbital zone unlike in the Small Indian Mongoose.

    BEHAVIOUR: Marks actively with their anal pad and has varied vocalizations including a weep, squawk, honk, pant, spit, bark, chuck, scream and growl.

    DISTRIBUTION: Northern plains, extending to Kolkata, West Bengal, in the east (sea level to 2,100 m).

    HABITAT: Open scrub, hedges, farms, human habitation and even deserts. Marsh Mongoose in swampy marshlands.

     Size: 22–44 cm

    IUCN  Status: Least Concern

    CRAB-EATING MONGOOSE/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

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    CRAB-EATING MONGOOSE


    DESCRIPTION: A large mongoose, only slightly smaller than the Stripe-necked Mongoose, the Crab-eating Mongoose has a coat that varies from grey to dark brown with individual hairs being ringed black and white, giving it a grizzled appearance. It has a broad white stripe on its neck, starting from its cheeks and progressing past its chest. The throat is conspicuously paler. The yellowish brown muzzle has a flesh-coloured nose pad with a deep groove on it. The ears are short and rounded, and the eyes have a yellowish brown iris. The limbs are dark, the soles of its hind feet are hairy, and all feet have clawed digits that have a shallow webbing. The tail is two-thirds the length of its head and body, and has a paler  more rufous tip.

    BEHAVIOUR: Very aquatic, the Crab-eating Mongoose hunts for fish, crabs, snails and frogs adeptly.

    DISTRIBUTION: From the Dooars of northern West Bengal up to north–east India.

    HABITAT: Stream banks, swamps, paddy fields and moist deciduous forests. Not commonly found near human habitation. Not a species of the hills, but found rarely (up to 2,000 m).

     Size: 45–50 cm

    IUCN  Status: Least Concern