Found only in sub-Saharan Africa, this small mammal is about 16 inches tall (40 cm) and 30 inches long (76 cm).
Although the population of this weasel relative is not officially endangered, they are difficult to observe. In addition to being nocturnal and solitary, they are prey to many African stalkers including leopards and lions. The species has also suffered from habitat loss. I have seen far more shining sets of civet eyes on nighttime safaris, than the actual animal.
An omnivorous hunter, Civettictis civetta eat plants and animals including vertebrates, invertebrates, and carrion. The African civet, unlike other civets, is also semiaquatic. More info here.
Named for their musky gland secretion, both genders secrete civet, used for marking territory. For hundreds of years this mammal has been hunted by humans for their secretion, used as a basic ingredient in perfumes (including Chanel No. 5). Fortunately synthetic musk has replaced this.
We lucked out on the day we spotted one in daylight, and what a joy the civet was to behold.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander