Civet, a small, catlike mammal related to the mongoose. There are several species, most of which inhabit forests or savannas in Africa and Southeast Asia. The civet has a long, slender body, a pointed snout, short legs, and a long tail. The thick, coarse fur is marked with spots, stripes, and bands. The civet lives in trees and is active at night, when it feeds on insects, fruit, carrion, reptiles, and small birds and rodents. The female bears one to three litters of two or three young per year.
The African civet is found in central and southern Africa. It is black with whitish-yellow spots and stripes. It is raised commercially for civet, an oily secretion produced by a pair of scent glands near the tail, which is used as a fixative in the perfume industry.
Civets belong to the family Viverridae. The African civet is Viverra, or Civettictis, civetta.