African Civet

African Civet, Zambia

African Civet, Zambia

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


47 thoughts on “African Civet

    • I thought that little tidbit was hilarious when I was researching for this post, Kirt. It’s a grand world, isn’t it? Delighted you enjoyed the post, and I so appreciate your visits and interest. 😀

    • It’s a rich and diverse world when we have so many animals we don’t know them all. I am honored to have introduced you to the civet, Janet — and so appreciate your visit. 😀

  1. Hunted for perfume? Oh my I am glad to hear that has stopped. So lucky you managed to see this one. Perhaps he didn’t get the memo that the game of hide and seek was still on. 🙂

    • We were really excited when we had a civet in the daylight. And funny to think their secretions were used in perfume. So very glad you enjoyed the post today, Sue, thank you so much. 😀

    • Your description is great, Sharon — it is a curious looking animal with beautiful markings. For a long time I thought it was a wild cat. So glad you enjoyed the civet post, Sharon. 😀

  2. I love animals, my love for them (especially elephants) has got me to where I am today. I find the beauty in every animal. I don’t understand how people say some animals are ugly I just can’t allow myself to feel like that about them. So happy to read that synthetics are available to help protect them and let them keep what rightfully belongs to them. Being vegetarian, I look for synthetics all the time, I don’t support using animals for anything; they are here for a reason and it is not to supply us with products or to be at our disposal for whatever we want just because ‘we’ feel superior and have domination over them.

  3. My dearly departed used to refer to skunks as civet cats. Probably no relation to the African version, but I can’t help but wonder how the term was adopted here.

    • “Civet cats” is how some people refer to civets. I’m not sure how the skunk reference came in, but I do know that the civet secretion is supposedly a horrid and strong smell until it is diluted. I really liked the quirkiness of this comment, Gunta — gave me a fun smile as I sit here typing…. 😀

  4. I like this animal – all the more for being elusive and a little odd looking when finally spotted! Glad to read you caught up with one, and I enjoyed the photographic evidence. They’re a bit of everything – how wonderful!

    • You can certainly understand why they’re elusive, when they’ve got lions and leopards around wanting to eat them. yikes. I like your summary, here, pc — and glad you enjoyed the post. Your visit, and interest, and presence here are very much appreciated. 😀

  5. Will I ever visit your space and find something that I know about?I doubt it,dear Jet.What a lovable little critter it is!You were lucky to meet it in the daylight;Athena’s image is gorgeous and it clearly shows its characteristics and especially its beautiful coat.Concerning its secretions and the perfumes,it reminds me of the Uric Acid they use in cosmetics … lol Hope it’s synthetic too.Best always 🙂 ^)))***

    • My mind was boggled by that link as well, Gill. We read and hear about furs (especially these days), but the civet’s secretions and perfume slipped past the public. Fortunately most perfumes are synthetic now (but what does that mean exactly, I don’t know). Glad you enjoyed the post, Gill. Thanks for stopping by. 😀

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