The African Palm Civet (sometimes called the Two-Spotted Palm Civet) is a Civet species endemic to the tropical rainforests of eastern and central Africa. Unlike the other Civet species, which are all closely related, the African Palm Civet belongs to its own genetic group, making it the most unique of the Civet species. The African Palm Civet is found in a variety of environments and can be seen in large numbers in some locations. The African Palm Civet is an excellent opportunist, and it is considered to be Africa’s most frequent forest-dwelling small carnivore.
African Palm Civet Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Nandiniidae
- Genus: Nandinia
- Scientific Name: Nandinia binotata
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Locations: Africa
African Palm Civet Facts
- Prey: Rodents, Snakes, Frogs
- Name Of Young: Pup
- Group Behavior: Solitary
- Fun Fact: Solitary but gathers in groups!
- Estimated Population Size: Locally abundant
- Biggest Threat: Habitat loss
- Most Distinctive Feature: Snout with sharp, pointed teeth
- Other Name(s): Two-Spotted Palm Civet
- Gestation Period: 64 days
- Habitat: Tropical rainforest
- Predators: Lions, Snakes, Leopards
- Diet: Omnivore
- Average Litter Size: 2
- Lifestyle: Crepuscular
- Common Name: African Palm Civet
- Number Of Species: 1
- Location: Eastern Africa
- Slogan: Solitary but gathers in groups!
- Group: Mammal
African Palm Civet Physical Characteristics
- Colour: Brown, Grey, Yellow, Black, White, Tan
- Skin Type: Fur
- Lifespan: 15 – 20 years
- Weight:4kg – 4.5kg (3lbs – 10lbs)
- Height: 43cm – 71cm (17in – 28in)
- Age of Sexual Maturity: 2 – 3 years
- Age of Weaning: 2 months
African Palm Civet Anatomy and Appearance
Despite its feline-like look and behaviors, the African Palm Civet is more closely related to other tiny carnivores such as Genets, Weasels, and Mongooses than to cats. Their thick brown to light-tan to yellow fur, speckled with a pattern of darker brown patches, is one of the African Palm Civet’s most distinguishing characteristics. The civet’s fur is darker on the top half of its body, allowing it to blend in better with the trees. The African Palm Civet’s snout is sharply pointed, as are the muzzles of other Civet species, and its limbs are robust and muscular but comparatively short. They have small, rounded ears and yellow-green eyes with slit-shaped pupils.
African Palm Civet Distribution and Habitat
The African Palm Civet may be found in tropical jungles and forests throughout most of eastern Africa, as well as portions of central and western Africa where its natural habitats still remain. Its current range is from southern Sudan through Guinea, via Angola, and into eastern Zimbabwe. African Palm Civets have been shown to be very adaptable creatures, with populations ranging from deciduous forests and lowland rainforests to the river and savanna woods. However, deforestation is threatening they are in most of its natural range, resulting in the degradation or complete extinction of many of its historical territories.
Behavior and Lifestyle
The African Palm Civet is a solitary species that lives a crepuscular lifestyle, which means it only comes out to forage for food for a few hours at dawn and sunset. They are mostly tree-dwelling creatures who spend the majority of their time sleeping in the safety and cover of the trees throughout the day and night. The African Palm Civet, while being a solitary species, has been found to congregate in groups of up to 15 individuals when food is plentiful. Scent glands of African Palm Civets secrete strong-smelling chemicals in two groups. These glandular secretions are found between the third and fourth toes on each foot, as well as on the bottom region of their belly, and are largely used for marking territories and mating.
Reproduction and Life Cycles
African Palm Civets may reproduce twice a year, in May and October, when there is more food available due to the wet season. After a couple of months of gestation, the female Civet generally gives birth to up to four young. When the infants are approximately 60 days old, their mother weans them until they are healthy enough to fend for themselves. The mammary glands of the female generate an orange-yellow substance that colors both her stomach and the baby’s fur. This is supposed to deter males from approaching her in search of a mate or attempting to damage her young. African Palm Civets may live up to 15 years in captivity, although only a handful reaches this age in the wild.
Diet and Prey
The African Palm Civet is an omnivorous animal that feeds on a diet of both plants and other animals, similar to other Civet species. Despite this, the majority of its diet consists of pineapples and other fruits. They hunt small creatures such as rats, lizards, birds, and frogs, as well as insects. African Palm Civets kill their victim by holding it in their clutches and biting it repeatedly to kill it before devouring it whole. The African Palm Civet’s long, robust tail is considered to act as a brace while the Civet is only balancing on its hind legs, and it, combined with the thick-skinned pads on the bottom of its feet, helps to keep the Civet on the branch as it eats.
Predators and Threats
Despite its reputation as a solitary but deadly predator, the African Palm Civet is preyed upon by a variety of predators in its native habitat. Although they spend the majority of their life in the trees, African Palm Civets sometimes descend to the ground in search of food, and will even go outside of the forest if the prey is scarce. Large predatory cats, such as Lions and Leopards, are the most common predators of the African Palm Civet, which may hunt the Civet in the trees. If given the chance, reptiles such as big snakes and crocodiles would hunt them. The loss of most of the African Palm Civet’s native habitat, primarily due to deforestation, is one of the most serious challenges species face today.
Interesting Facts and Features
Humans have been collecting the musk generated by glands near the reproductive organs of the African Palm Civet for hundreds of years. The odor is believed to be very unpleasant to individuals in its concentrated state, but considerably more pleasant if diluted. This smell became one of the main components in some of the world’s most costly perfumes. Female African Palm Civets have been seen producing milk from the same number of teats as their young, ensuring that each of their offspring has adequate milk to drink and that individuals are not readily rejected during feeding time. African Palm Civets were previously widely hunted as bushmeat in several regions of the continent, however, this is no longer the case.
Relationship with Humans
Farmers in the African Palm Civet’s natural environments see these creatures as pests, as they are known to attack chicken coops for an easy meal. They are very persistent and numerous predators, which, along with their secrecy, has resulted in significant harm to cattle populations in the past. Humans, on the other hand, have long been a greater danger to the African Palm Civet, as they have been hunted and captured for their flesh, smell, and thick fur coat, which is used to manufacture traditional ceremonial clothes. The greatest threat to the African Palm Civet nowadays is believed to be human disruption of the species’ natural habitat.
Conservation Status and Life Today
The African Palm Civet has been designated as an animal with a lesser danger of going extinct in the wild in the near future, and hence as Least Concern. They’re known to be extensively dispersed, living in a range of environments, and having large populations in certain regions. They are being threatened by deforestation and has lost a significant portion of its native habitat. The primary cause for such widespread deforestation in these places is either for logging or clearing land for palm oil plants.
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