Civettictis civetta

The African Civet

Habitat and Appearance

The African Civet is a large species of Civet found across sub-Saharan Africa. The African Civet is the only remaining member in it's genetic group. Despite their cat-like appearance, the African Civets are more closely related to other small carnivores like Mongooses and Weasels. Their most distinctive features are the large black bands circling their eyes, and the black and white stripes, or blotches, on their fur. African Civets can grow to be about 17-28 inches in height, and can weigh anywhere from 3-10 pounds. They have long bodies and disproportionately large hind legs. Civets can live for around 15-20 years, maturing at a year old.

Diet and Behavior

African Civets are omnivores, with their diet consisting of insects, berries, fallen fruits, rodents, lizards, frogs, and even snakes. Like most small mammals living in the Sahara, Civets are preyed on by lions and leopards. They are very solitary creatures, and are tree-dwelling, and are nocturnal. Civets spend their days sleeping in dense vegations, or sometimes swim around, being surprisingly fair swimmers, but leave all of their meals to the nighttime .

Fun Fact!

The musk secreted by the glands close to the African Civet's reproductive organs has been collected by people for hundreds of years. In its concentrated form, the smell is said to be quite pungent, but much more pleasant once diluted. It was this scent that became one of the ingredients in some of the most expensive perfumes in the world (and made the African Civet a well-known African animal). Civets secretes 4 grams of musk every week, so it's no wonder there was plenty to go around!