African Civet - Civettictis civetta

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African Civet - Civettictis civetta | Large spotted Genet - Genetta tigrina | Small spotted Genet - Genetta genetta | Selous' Mongoose - Paracynictis selousi | Yellow Mongoose - Cynictis penicillata | Small Grey Mongoose - Galerella pulverulenta | White-tailed Mongoose - Ichneumia albicauda | Water Mongoose - Atilax paludinosus | Large Grey Mongoose - Herpestes ichneumon | Slender Mongoose - Galerella sanguinea | Banded Mongoose - Mungos mungo | Dwarf Mongoose - Helogale parvula | Suricate - Suricata suricatta



Afrikaans  Siwetkat Tswana Tshipalore  
Bvungo Shangaan Fungwe

5 cm

Distribution Dung
Contains millipede exoskeletons
Deposited in middens near pathways

Unusual features/differences from similar animals

At night, the African Civet's eyes reflect a bright emerald green.

Visible Male/Female Differences

The female is slightly heavier than the male.

 Habitat and Distribution

The civet prefers forest and dense bush. It is independent of water.


The civet eats almost anything from insects to carrion.


The civet has litters of up to four young which are born from August-January after a gestation period of 60-65 days. Young's eyes are open within a few days when they start to crawl, walks within 5 days and 2 weeks thereafter they will go outside and play. Weaned at 1 month, starting with solid food.

File:African civet.jpgBehavior and Habits

Seen alone or in family groups of mother with young. It is active at night, mostly from 1-2 hours after sunset until midnight. Hides in holes or bush during the daytime. A creature of habit, it creates extensive pathways. The civet scent marks by pushing the anal gland out and wiping a smelly, dark-colored pate on objects. Dung  is deposited in middens has the same odor as scent marks. Middens are sometimes shared. Fully grown civets can spray their urine to scent-mark more effectively.

They freeze when frightened or run away in a burst of speed if approached too closely. It is very fast with its long legs, jumps over obstacles easily and are great dodgers .When threatened it turns sideways and erects the crest on the back to appear larger and intimidate attackers.

When looking for food it walks with head low/ It does not chase prey but grabs it when seen using only its jaws. When a snake is caught, it will grab and throw it with a savage head-jerk and when victim does not fight back will grip it and give it a death shake, breaking the backbone of snake or rodent. Larger prey is killed with a crushing bite to skull.


Normally silent. Growls and coughs when cornered. Kittens make a cat-like mew.

Dung and Field sign

The dung is about 8mm long and cylindrical containing digested animal and plant remnants as well as millipede rings. Dung is deposited in middens near pathways. Rocks and plants smeared with dark-coloured paste and a strong odor.


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