June 22, 2015

Civet Midden

The African Civet is a common but rarely seen nocturnal omnivore.  A member of the Vivieridae family, the civet marks its territory with an anal gland that secretes a very strong smelling hormone.  This substance, called ‘civetone’, was widely used in the cosmetic industry until as recently as the 80’s as a fixative to help bind perfume’s scent to human skin.  Thankfully, we can bow synthesize a similar substance and thus the harvesting of civetone is no longer practiced. 

Civets also mark the boundaries by frequenting middens and are well known for their seeming immunity to the noxious secretions of millipedes.  The chintinous shell cannot be digested however and the bleached rings are often scattered amongst the remains, known as a ‘civetry’.  Civet dung is unusually large and could easily be confused with lion scat were it not for the contents!

#Fun Fact by Ben Coley

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