The African Civet, also known as the Civettictis Civetta, is a big member of the civet family (viverrid) that is indigenous to the woodlands and secondary forests of sub-Saharan Africa. Hunting is the primary factor contributing to its dwindling population.
They are nocturnal mammals with unique coloration, disproportionately large hindquarters, and erectile dorsal crest. It is an omnivorous generalist and detects prey primarily by smell and sound rather than sight.
For hundreds of years, Humans have collected the musk secreted by the glands near the African Civet’s reproductive organs
African Civet Facts for Kids
- African Civets are omnivorous
- They live for 15 – 20 Years
- They are threatened by habitat loss and deforestation
- African civets are mostly nocturnal
- African civets are solitary animals
Classification and Evolution
The African Civet is a big Civet species native to sub-Saharan Africa. Its musk is used in perfume manufacturing, and its striking black and white markings make it easy to identify.
Anatomy and Appearance
The African Civet has black and white markings on its fur and grey face and a stance similar to a Mongoose. It has five digits with non-retractable claws on its paws.
Distribution and Habitat
The African Civet is found in tropical forests and jungles in sub-Saharan Africa and is capable of swimming. It spends its time hunting and resting in the trees as well as on the ground.
Civets found in the savannahs, woods, and rivers of Africa often doze off in the long grasses that are located close to water sources in the middle and southern parts of the continent.
Behavior and Lifestyle
The African Civet is a nocturnal animal that only comes out under cover of night to hunt and catch food. They are highly territorial animals that mark their boundaries with scent.
African civets deposit their feces in large piles called latrines and use their perineal gland secretion to mark their territories around their latrines.
Reproduction and Life Cycles
After a pregnancy that lasts for 4 months, female African Civets often give birth to a litter of four offspring. The newborns depend on their mothers for nourishment until they are old enough to care for themselves on their own.
Diet and Prey
The majority of their diet consists of uncultivated fruit, rodents, insects (including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and termites), carrion, eggs, and various species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Predators and Threats
The African Civet is preyed upon by a number of predators, including Lions, Leopards, Snakes, and Crocodiles. They are also threatened by habitat loss and deforestation, and trophy hunters.
The African Civet is hunted for its perineal glands, which contain a waxy substance called civetone. The civets are kept in small cages and often die from stress.
It is threatened by hunting and is kept for the perfume industry.
Relationship with Humans
The African Civet secretes up to 4g of musk every week, but today most perfumes contain synthetic musk. Hunting by humans has also had a significant negative impact on the numbers of African civets.
Conservation Status and Life Today
The African Civet is under threat from deforestation but is listed as being Least Concern, meaning that it is unlikely to become extinct.
African civets can fluff up their dorsal crest to look bigger when threatened. They are good swimmers and hunt during the night.
How do they reproduce?
African civets go through an estrous cycle and are able to crawl at birth. They leave their nest after 18 days and are weaned from their mother’s milk after two months.
What do African Civets look like?
African civets look more like raccoons than cats and have multicolored fur all over their body. They have cat-like hind legs and a long fur-covered tail and have musk-producing glands near their external genitalia.
How do they communicate?
African civets use their perineal glands to make three types of sound for communication: a growl, a scream, and a cough-spit.