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19 Interesting Facts About Civet

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The civet is a small, cat-like mammal that is found in Asia and Africa. Civets are omnivorous and feed on fruits, insects, small vertebrates and eggs. They play an important role in seed dispersal.

Civets produce a musk that is extensively used in the perfumery industry. This musk, called civet musk, is one of the most expensive animal products in the world.

Here are 19 interesting facts about this elusive yet economically important mammal:

Civets belong to the family Viverridae which includes several small to medium-sized mammals including mongooses, genets and linsangs. There are over a dozen species of civets found across Asia and Africa.

Some popular civet species include:

  • African Civet
  • Asian Palm Civet
  • Malayan Civet
  • Large Indian Civet

Civets are nocturnal and solitary creatures that have a cat-like appearance but are not closely related to cats. Here are some fascinating facts about them:

Interesting Facts About Civet
Masked Palm Civet by 57Andrew is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 .

Facts about Civets

  1. Markings: Civets have thick brown or grey fur with dark spots, stripes and blotches which help them camouflage amongst trees and rocks.
  2. Scent glands: Civets have perineal scent glands under their tails which produce a waxy-feeling musk called civetone.
  3. Civet coffee: Civet coffee is produced from coffee berries that are eaten and partly digested by civets before being collected from their feces. This is an expensive coffee produced in Southeast Asia.
  4. Omnivorous diet: Civets eat small mammals, birds, eggs, insects, fruits, seeds and even carrion. They sometimes raid farms for livestock.
  5. Toothcomb: Like cats, civets have specialized teeth called a toothcomb used for grooming their coat.
  6. Arboreal: Most civet species live in trees and have adaptations like partially retractable claws which allow them to climb effectively.
  7. Nocturnal: Civets are primarily nocturnal and sleep in hollows of trees or underground burrows during the day. Their night vision helps them hunt in darkness.
  8. Solitary: Civets are solitary creatures and males in particular avoid each other except during mating season.
  9. Mating calls: Male civets make loud mating calls during breeding season, often described as screaming, crying or barking sounds.
  10. Reproduction: The gestation period is about two months, after which a litter of 2-4 young ones is born. Baby civets are called civet kittens.
  11. Lifespan: Smaller civet species live for around 7-8 years while larger species can survive over 20 years in captivity.
  12. IUCN status: Many civet species like the Malabar large-spotted civet are under threat and classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
  13. Major threats: Habitat loss and hunting for bushmeat and scent glands are the major threats faced by wild civet populations today.
  14. Pets and symbols: Civets are kept as pets by some people. In Sri Lanka the civet is seen as an animal of ill omen.
  15. Body features: Civets have small heads, pointed muzzles, large eyes, rounded ears, long tails and short legs.
  16. Weight: Civets weigh around 1.5 to 15 kgs depending on the species, with most ranging between 3 to 6 kgs.
  17. Body length: Their body length excluding the tail is 40 to 70 cms, with tails as long as their bodies.
  18. Population: No estimates exist for global civet populations. Their secretive nocturnal nature makes surveying numbers difficult.
  19. Taxonomy: There is still some contention about civet taxonomy with their classification being revised several times over the past decades.


In conclusion, civets are medium-sized mammals that inhabit forests and woodlands of Africa and Asia. They are omnivorous, nocturnal and solitary creatures. Civets are threatened by deforestation and poaching due to the lucrative civetone musk they produce. Learning more about their ecology can help devise conservation plans for their long term preservation.

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