African Civet


African Civets are suprizingly affectionate to their keepers.

The African Civet (Civettictis civetta) is found in forests and savannahs on the lower two thirds of the continent of Africa. Normally, it is nocturnal in nature although in captivity, it readily awakens to interact with its keepers.

Their head/body length is 24 to 36 inches long, tail length 17-24 inches long and weight is up to 45 lb. The base body color is silver or white to yellowish with markings of brown to black. The face has dark bands resembling a mask. There is a one inch tall 'mane' from head to tail of the darker color that is erected when the animal is excited. The spots on the sides may or may not be rousetted. All feet have five claws.

These animals have perineal glands anterior to the rectum that produce 'civet', an oily matter used in making certain perfumes. In certain parts of Africa, particularly Ethiopia, these animals were kept in small cages just wide enough to accomodate the width of their body so that they could not turn around. A door at the rear permitted access by the owner so that the civet could be extracted with a small spoon made especially for that purpose. As late as 8 years ago, 3,000 civets were still maintained in Africa for this use and the musk was selling for over $200 per lb., a tidy sum for that area.

I'd rather be a parrot!

Although African civets can be fearsome, our civets are gentle and allow us to inspect this gland. It is simply fascinating to see how it is constructed and it has a very interesting and pleasant odor.

The African civet enjoys water and swims easily. We keep our civets' water containers elevated to prevent them from using them as a toilet. They are very clean, however, and use the exact same place in their enclosures for 'potty'. It is solitary in nature and comes together with the opposite sex only to breed. They are territorial and mark it with their well-developed scent glands.

The African civet is mainly terrestrial but can climb to some extent. They eat a variety of foods including rodents, birds, eggs, reptiles, invertebrates, fruits and carrion.

They are sexually mature at 12 months. They do not have a specific breeding season and may have more than one litter a year of from one to four young. The young suckle unti 4-5 months of age.

Our civets eat chicken and a wide variety of fruits. One of our males, especially is very affectionate will climb in my lap and delights in rubbing his neck anywhere on us. He has never offered to bite and looks forward to interacting with us every day. These animals are incredibly beautiful with a coarse, yet soft fur and distinct markings.

They are one of my favorite animals to interact with, possibly because they seem to have the attributes of dog, cat and genet combined.


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