The African Civet is an animal that we are always thrilled to encounter whenever we get the rare chance. They are quite large, standing up to 40cm high at the shoulder, measuring up to 1.4m in length and weighing up to 20kg. They’re not aggressive but can put up a good defence when cornered. Secretions from their anal glands, a defensive adaptation, is used to a small extent in the perfume industry – a practice that is to be frowned upon in an enlightened world.
Inhabiting a wide range of wooded habitats, provided there is shelter in the form of burrows, thickets or reedbeds, African Civets feed on fruits and seeds, carrion, insects, reptiles, frogs, smaller birds and mammals (even domestic cats and poultry), and they’re among the very few creatures that will eat substantial quantities of foul-tasting millipedes.
African Civets are usually seen alone or in pairs, and frequently travel along well-trodden paths through their home ranges. They’re most active during the night and only rarely venture out in daylight. They’re not adept at climbing and usually stay on the ground, but they are good swimmers. Females give birth to 1-4 pups after a 10 week gestation, The youngsters are weaned at 5 months of age. African Civets live to about 12 years of age in the wild.
In South Africa, the African Civet is found mainly in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, with scattered pockets of occurrence in the North West, Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal. North of our borders, Civets are distributed almost all over sub-Saharan Africa with only a few areas where they have not been recorded. The IUCN considers the African Civet to be of least concern.