Authored by Rodney Southern in Nature and Wildlife
Published on 09-24-2009
In the forests and woods of Africa and Asia, there is an animal that is incredibly secretive and interesting called the civet. The civet looks very much like a large cat if you are lucky enough to see one, but that is fairly rare. Between hunters reducing their numbers and the fact that they stay hidden during the day, the civet is not a very easy animal to locate despite it’s broad range.
The civet can be found in Central Africa and Asia, and spends the biggest majority of their lives in the trees. They will forage on the forest floor, and have also been found in rock piles and inside the large roots of certain types of trees. The civet is quite capable of adjusting to whatever surroundings they are given, and they tend to flourish when left alone.
While the civet very much reminds one of a cat, they have a much longer snout than your average cat. This is to help with their incredible sense of smell. The civet also has very large eyes that help the civet to see in low lighting. They have fur that is thick and beautiful, as it is patterned with spots and stripes. These patterns can range from black to white, and all the colors in between. This is largely determined by species and how old the civet is.
The African civet is a night time hunter like many other animals. They sleep throughout the day, and this is one of the many reasons the civet is tough to spot for tourists or hunters. They also use their coats to blend in well with the forest, much in the same way the jaguar uses their spots to blend. The coat of the civet is tough to spot in most situations, but is especially hard to spot at night when they come out to hunt.
The civet is an omnivore, meaning that they will eat plants or meat. They are opportunistic hunters and eaters, and will feed largely on fruits, berries, plants, rodents, birds, and even insects when the choices are thin. The civet is very adaptable when it comes to feeding. They will eat most anything they are capable of capturing and killing.
One of the most fascinating things about civets is that they tend to stay by themselves except when it is mating season. Around that time, they will mark their territory with a scent from their anus. The glands that produce this musky smelling mating call has been used in past years in the production of perfume! The practice has largely been eradicated due to the cruel nature. Fortunately, only the civets are spreading that perfume around now.
As a rule the civet is not a particularly dangerous animal, but it will scratch and bite if you muck with it. The animal can leave a nasty infection in these scratches and bites. Like any wild animal, you should simply observe them from a distance, and leave them alone. The African civet is no different in this manner.