Monday, May 18, 2015

Word of the Day -- African Civet

The African civet is the largest representative of the African Viverridae. It is the sole member of its genus. African civets can be found from coast to coast across sub-Saharan Africa. They are primarily nocturnal and spend the day sleeping in dense vegetation. During the night, when they are the most active, they can be found in a wide variety of habitat consisting of thick forest to open country. The African civet is a solitary mammal that is easily recognizable by its unique coloration; the black and white stripes and blotches covering the coarse pelage of the animal are extremely variable and allow it to be cryptic. The black bands surrounding the African civet’s eyes closely resemble those of the raccoon. Other distinguishing features of the African civet are its disproportionately large
hindquarters and its erectile dorsal crest.

The African civet is an omnivorous generalist, taking small vertebrates, invertebrates, eggs, carrion, and vegetable matter. It is capable of taking on poisonous invertebrates (such as the millipedes most other species avoid) and snakes. Prey is primarily detected by smell and sound rather than by sight.

Like all civets it has perineal glands that produce a fluid known as civet, which it spreads on markers in its territory to claim its range. It is used in the perfume industry.

Some civets, such as the African civet and the Congo water civet, are semiaquatic. Although most civets live on the ground, palm civets are found in trees and eat fruit.

The perineal gland secretion, civet, has been the basic ingredient for many perfumes for hundreds of years and is still being used today although on the decline since the creation of synthetic musk. African civets have been kept in captivity and milked for their civet which is diluted into perfumes. They can secrete three to four grams of civet per week and it can be sold for just under five hundred dollars per kilogram. The WSPA says that Chanel, Cartier, and LancĂ´me have all admitted to using civet in their products and that laboratory tests detected the ingredient in Chanel No. 5.

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