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Threatened mostly by hunting, the African civet (Civettictis civetta) is a large mammal of the civet family (viverrid), native to the sub-Saharan Africa woodlands and secondary forests. Naturally nocturnal, the African civet is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
See the fact file below for more information on the African civet or alternatively, you can download our 20-page African Civet worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Viverra civetta was the scientific name proposed by Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1776, when he portrayed African civets according to previous descriptions.
- In 1915, Reginald Innes Pocock defined the structural differences between the African and large Indian civet samples in the zoological collection of the Natural History Museum in London.
- 2006 phylogenetic research suggested that the African civet is closely linked to the genus Viverra. It was assumed that the Civettictis-Viverra clade separated from Viverricula 16.2 million years ago; the African civet diverged from Viverra 12.3 million years ago.
- The African civet is the only remaining member of its genetic faction and is viewed as the largest civet-like animal found in the African continent.
- Despite their cat-like looks and demeanor, African civets are not members of the feline family but are in fact, more closely linked to other small carnivores, together with weasels and mongooses.
- The generic name Civettictis is a combination of the French word civette and the Greek word ictis, which translates to “weasel.”
- The specific name civetta and the common name “civet” originated from the French civette or the Arabic translation for “civet cat.”
- The African civet sports a course and wiry fur that differs in color from white to creamy yellow to reddish on the back. Its stripes, spots, and blotches are dark brown to black. Horizontal lines cover its hind limbs and spots are usually found on its midsection and fade into vertical stripes on top of the forelimbs.
- Its muzzle is sharp, ears small and rounded. A black band is prominent across its small eyes, and two black bands stretch around its short wide neck. The erectile dorsal crest extends from the neck to the end of the tail, where the hairs in this area are longer than those of the rest of the coat.
- The sagittal crest, ridge bone found lengthwise along the midsection of the apex of the skull, is well-formed, giving a large area for attachment of the temporal muscle.
- The zygomatic arch, most commonly known as cheekbone, is sturdy and gives a huge area for attachment of the masseter, a muscle that facilitates chewing of plant matter.
- Male and female African civets have perineal and anal glands, which are usually larger in males.
HABITAT AND DIET
- African civets live in a number of habitats on the African continent, usually extending from coast to coast in sub-Saharan Africa. They are naturally native in tropical forests and jungles and regions where there is abundant dense vegetation to supply both cover and animals that these viverrids feed on.
- They are never found in dry regions; they always prefer areas that have a good water source. Despite this, African civets are commonly spotted along rivers that lead into these arid regions. They are excellent swimmers and often spend their time looking for prey and resting in the trees and on the ground.
- Although they are carnivorous mammals, they have a diverse diet that consists mainly of animals and plant matter. Small animals like rodents, lizards, snakes, and frogs make up most of their diet, together with insects, berries, and fallen fruits.
- African civets usually use their teeth and mouth to harvest food instead of making use of their paws. This approach of eating means that these viverrids can effectively use their razor sharp teeth and strong jaw to hold and tear apart their prey.
- Although notorious for being a secretive yet relatively barbaric predator, the African civet is eaten by many predators within its environment, such as lions, leopards, large snakes, and crocodiles.
- Their population also declines because of the threat from habitat loss and deforestation, and they have been targets of hunters for their musk.
BEHAVIOR AND LIFESTYLE
- African civets are solitary and nocturnal mammals; they search for food at night. They are tree-dwelling creatures that spend daylight hours mostly resting in the safety of the trees.
- They are usually active after sunset but start to hunt for prey in areas that still give plenty of cover.
- Despite being unsociable mammals, they are known to gather in large numbers of up to 15 members, especially during the mating season.
- They are highly territorial creatures, staining their borders with the scent released by their perineal glands.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFE CYCLE
- The only time when these viverrids are spotted together is when they are mating.
- Females naturally give birth to up to four babies after a gestation period that takes a number of months. They nest in an underground burrow that has already been dug by other animals in order to securely raise their babies.
- Unlike other carnivore mammals, African civet babies are generally born relatively mobile and covered with fur. They are nursed by their mother until they are old enough to defend themselves from other predators.
- African civets can live up to 20 years.
- Currently, African civets experience threats brought upon by deforestation, which causes habitat loss.
- They are listed as Least Concern species by the IUCN, meaning African civets face little threat at the moment.
African Civet Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the African civet across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use African Civet worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the African civet (Civettictis civetta) which is a large mammal of the civet family (viverrid), native to the sub-Saharan Africa woodlands and secondary forests. Naturally nocturnal, the African civet is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- African Civet Facts
- Cat-like Viverrids
- Describing an African Civet
- Things You Need To Know
- African Civet Wiki
- An African Civet’s Life
- Asian and African
- Tell Me More
- African Civet Recap
- Other African Animals
- Call to Action
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Link will appear as African Civet Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 15, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.