AFRICAN CIVET (Civettictis civetta)



Are African civets related to cats?

At first glance the civet almost looks like it could be a member of the cat family. However, African civets belong to the family Viverridae which consists of 36 genera and 71 species and includes Binturongs, Genets, Linsangs, and Mongooses. They have a head and body length of 26.5-35 inches with a tail length of 17.5-18.5 inches. Their color is black with white or yellowish spots, stripes and bands. The long and coarse hair is very thick on the tail.


Where can I find African civets in the wild?

African civets range from Senegal to Somalia and south to Namibia and eastern South Africa. The African Civet is widely distributed in both forests and savannahs, wherever long grass or thickets are sufficient to provide daytime cover. They will use a permanent burrow or nest only to bear young. They are nocturnal and almost completely terrestrial, but they can swim quite well.


What do African civets eat?

African civets are omnivores which means they eat both animals and plants. They have a wide diet which includes carrion, rodents, birds, eggs, reptiles, frogs, crabs, insects, fruits and other vegetation.


Do African civets live in groups?

Civets are generally solitary, but they have a variety of visual, olfactory and auditory means of communication. Individuals have defined and well-marked territories. The scent glands have a major social role, leaving scent along a path to convey information, such as whether or not the female is in estrus. There are three known sounds of aggression – the growl, cough-spit, and scream. The most commonly heard sound is the "ha-ha-ha" used in making contact.

Breeding occurs throughout the year and they may even produce several litters a year. The gestation period is usually 60-72 days, but is occasionally extended as much as 81 days because of delayed implantation. The litters range in size from 1-4 with 2-3 being common. Babies are born fully furred and open their eyes in just a few days. They stop suckling at 14-20 weeks and reach breeding maturity by 1 year old.


Are African civets endangered?

African civets are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. However, African civets do face threats from humans. The perineal glands under the tail contain the oily scented matter used commercially in making perfume. In Ethiopia, and some various other parts of Africa, natives keep civets in captivity and remove musk from them several times a week. An average animal yields 3-4 grams weekly. The natives do not raise the civets, they merely capture wild ones, and release them after the musk has been removed. The musk from civets is no longer used in the United States, but may still be used in Europe. Additionally, they are hunted by poachers for their skins.