civetta [sih vet' tik tis sih' vet uh]
Looking somewhat like a cross
between a cat, a raccoon, and a weasel, the
African civet has many distinguishing features,
including large hindquarters, low-head stance,
and short mane. Individual civets are recognized
by the details of their dark face masks, which
resemble those of a raccoon, as well as white
neck stripes. The body is silver or cream in
color with brownish black markings and spots.
Body length averages from 24 to 36 inches, with a
17 to 24 inch tail. Average weight is 15 to 24
Distribution and Habitat
The African civet inhabits the
savannahs and forests of southern and central
Africa, as well as in the forests of western
Africa from Senegal through Liberia. Although it
lives both in the forest and in open country, it
requires a covering of tall grasses or thicket to
provide safety in the daytime. It is usually
found close to permanent water systems.
Habits and Behaviors
nocturnal, African civets are sometimes seen in
the morning or afternoon on cloudy days. They
sleep in the dense grass of thickets during the
African civets are solitary,
except when mating, and territorial.
Rodents, insects, reptiles and
birds are the primary prey of African civets.
Carrion and eggs are also eaten, as are some wild
fruits, roots and tubers.
The breeding season in central
and east-central Africa runs from March through
October, while in southern Africa it encompasses
the warm, wet summer months from August to
January. There is no specific breeding season in
the westernmost parts of the civet's range.
Females may have two or three litters per year,
with one to four young per litter being the norm.
Young civets are born in a hole
in the ground or in dense cover. They are born
fully furred, and are able to crawl almost
immediately after birth. They are able to leave
the nest at about 18 days, begin to play at about
2 weeks, and are weaned at about 6 weeks.
The average lifespan of an
African civet in the wild is 15 to 20 years.
The African civet has glands
near its reproductive organs that secrete a
musk-like substance that serves to attract
potential mates. Quite potent and offensive to
the human nose in its concentrated form, it has a
pleasant scent when diluted and was once a vital
ingredient in some of the world's most expensive
Genus and Species Civettictis civetta
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Civettictis_civetta/
Questions or comments about