The Animal African Civet

The African Civet is an exceptionally large viverrid, usually native to sub-Saharan Africa where it is well known and widespread in dry woodlands and savannas. However, it is listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List as currently, it is critically endangered in parts of its native range. The IUCN has also designated it as Extinct in All Other Areas (ECOA). This means that if it were to become extinct, it would be regarded as an Endangered National Species.

So what exactly is an African Civet? The scientific name of this bird is Psittacula atrifolia leucoptera. Its exact ancestor remains unknown. It was probably domesticated from a more primordial relative, the African Mockingbird. The word 'civet' derives from the Tahitian word "kikipolo" which literally means 'mockingbird'. Civets are typically arboreal, with a broad flat body and short, droned wings.

Their name, according to some sources, comes from the fact that these birds perform a unique roosting behavior - that is, they sleep upside down while holding their wings away from their body and head. Others think this name is corrupted from "take" - which in Tahitian English means 'dive-down'. Either way, the bird does not dive down to the ground to collect food; rather, it takes off from the trees and soared high into the air to hunt prey - hence its name. They usually go to feeding sites in thick, tree-studded swamps or grasslands, and perch on rocks or ledges. Sometimes they sit on dead leaves to stay warm and dry, and sometimes they forage on the water - wading in shallow pools of water or a flowing stream.

Most African civets are male, but there are some subspecies that produce a pinkish blackbird instead. These birds are called the Pinky Civet; they are usually small and dark in color, with blackish flickers or white spots on their breast feathers. They do not have tail flukes, but their beaks are quite long and tapering.

These civets generally feed once a day and are not at all vocal, except to mark their territory or to tell other birds where food is. Unlike most other birds, they make no noise; all they do is stand there quietly, scanning the surrounding areas for prey. Other birds are always calling, but these civets are so calm that they rarely, if ever, respond. They are also known to be shy and aloof; they tend to fly erratically and seem to be possessed of extra energy even when in flight. It's said that they have the ability to outrun most predators in the African bush.

A typical civet has dark, fleshy legs covered with short, hard scales. Their beaks are wide, tapered and pointed at the tip. They have short, rounded tails and short, pointed wings that are lined with a dark pigment. Their eyes are larger than usual, and their beaks are different shapes than those of the Masked Civet. In addition, they have a thick bushy tail and a short, pointed crest.

Because they are nocturnal hunters, the African Civet has been widely hunted for centuries in Africa. The well-known Giant Civet, sometimes called the Rock Civet, is often killed for its meat. Less well-known civets are the White-Rumped Cayenne, Black-Banded Civet, and the Abyssinian Civet. These are not the only African Civet species, however; there is the Abyssinian Civet, Masked Civet, Fischer's Civet, Black-necked Civet, and the Acacia Civet. It is very difficult to evaluate the behavior of each of these because of their very different appearance (being similar to each other in form and color). The Abyssinian and Fischer's Civets are nearly identical in behavior, but the Black-necked and Acacia Civets differ notably from each other.

As with other animals of similar nature, the African Civet can be used for ornamental purposes. They make beautiful, detailed wall decorations for homes, gardens, and parks. It can also be used as fencing because it has a thick and sturdy prehensile tail that is easily inserted through openings. The civet makes an excellent pen cat because of its gentle temperament and beautiful coat.

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