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It’s not a cat, it’s the African civet | Candid Animal Cam

  • Every month, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.

Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This month we’re meeting an African viverrid: the African civet.

The African civet (Civettictis civetta) is a medium-sized animal native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it lives in forests and savannas. Individual civets are recognized by the white stripes on their neck and the details of their dark face masks, which resemble those of a raccoon. The varied colors and shapes of the civet’s coat provide excellent camouflage when hiding. These nocturnal and solitary animals are omnivores; they eat various food such as fruit, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and rodents, and they occasionally eat the young of large mammals. Civets pounce on their prey and shake it to kill it.

The African civet is famous for the secretions from its perianal gland, known as ‘civetone,’ which is used as an ingredient in perfume production. For centuries, people have collected musk from these animals and diluted it to make a pleasant fragrance. However, African civets are illegally kept in cages to collect and sell the musk to the perfume industry in some areas. The trade for civetone has decreased remarkably, but it is still a significant threat to these animals in some locations. Watch the video to learn more about this species!

Special thanks to research biologist Pearson McGovern from the African Chelonian Institute. You can follow him on Instagram at @pearsmcg.

Banner image of an African civet. Photo by Николай Усик via Flickr (CC BY-SA 3.0) 

Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s bilingual writer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @romi_castagnino