Civet [Civettictis civetta]


The African Civet has short, dense fur that is a greyish colour, with black spots arranged in rows along their bodies. Their legs and about 2/3 of their tail is black, with about a third of the base of their tail having striped markings. Their face is solid grey except for a white muzzle and black markings around the eyes that lead down the face. Their long necks have bars of white and black running down the sides, usually one white bar enclosed by two black bars, one above and one below. They have a short mane of about 3-10cm in length that runs along their back. Civets have 40 teeth. They have five digits on each paw with non-retractable claws. Civets have six mammae. Their head and body length is 680-890mm, tail length is 445-63mm, and weight is 7-20 Kg. The colour is black with white or yellowish spots, stripes, and bands. The long and coarse hair is thick on the tail. From Viverra, Civettictis is distinguished by much larger molar teeth and a far broader lower carnassial.


The omnivorous diet includes carrion, rodents, birds, eggs, reptiles, frogs, crabs, insects, fruits, and other vegetation. Poultry and young lambs are sometimes taken. This nocturnal animal is most active about an hour or so after dark when they search for insects, mice, reptiles, frogs, birds and they would even scavenge and eat fruit.


African Civet females are sexually active at one year old and may have two litters a year. A litter of one to three young is common. Females are polyestrous and are able to have two or three litters a year. There are usually 1 to 4 young in a litter. Young Civets are born in advanced stages relative to most carnivores. They are fully furred, although the fur is darker, shorter, and softer than adult fur. Their markings are more poorly defined than those of adults. Young are able to crawl at birth, and the hind legs support the body by the 5th day. They start leaving the nest between 17-18 days, and the first sign of play behavior is seen at about 2 weeks. The young are completely dependent on mother's milk for about 6 weeks. After about 42 days, their mother provides them with solid food. By the second month, they are catching food for themselves.


The African Civet is solitary, except when breeding. Knowledge of the habits of the civets is limited because they are nocturnal and have a secretive life style. They mark their territories and advertise their presence by frequently rubbing secretions from the perineal glands on objects about 350 mm above ground. This glandular secretion has a strong musky odour which can last up to three months. Civets are generally solitary but have a variety of visual, olfactory, and auditory means of communication. Individuals may 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 a female is in oestrus. Civets are rather docile in behaviour.


African Civets live both in the forest and in open country, but they seem to require a covering of tall grasses or thicket to provide safety in the daytime. They rarely can be found in arid regions of Africa. Instead, they are usually found close to permanent water systems. It seems to use a permanent burrow or nest only to bear young. It is nocturnal and almost completely terrestrial but takes to water readily and swims well.

Where they are found

The African Civet, inhabits the savannahs and the forests of southern and central Africa. The African Civet is rarely found in arid regions, however, it can be found along river systems that project into the arid areas of Niger, Mali, and Chad.


They are killed by Lion, Hyena and Leopard.




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