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<About the author>

Common Name



Latin name






Similar species






Civettis civetta



Looking like a cross between a cat and Racoon the Civet is a long (1.4m inc tail and 40cm at shoulder) cat like animal that is nocturnal in habit. Hunting Reptiles, birds, rodents, insects it will also take fruit and carrion to supplement its diet. Civets are purely terrestrial hunters and are widespread throughout the continent of Africa. Scent from the anal glands is used as a perfume base.



Tree Civet (not illustrated) very similar in appearance but lacking dark facial mask. This animal is the arboreal version of the Civet.




(large spotted)



Genatta genatta



Smaller in size than the Civet (1.0m long inc tail and 20cm at shoulder) the Genet is an arboreal hunter par excellence. Mainly nocturnal in habits it preys upon insects, reptiles, rodents, birds and fruit . Territory is marked by strong secretions from the anal glands. Approx 10 species are thought to be found in Africa.



If you think you might confuse this animal with the Civet you are more likely to see a Genet in a tree and Civets are normally on the ground.






Ictonyx striatus



The Zorilla is a small Polecat type member of the mustelidae family. Approx 45cm long inc tail it feeds on insects, invertebrates, small reptiles, small mammals and ground nesting birds. As with others members of mustelidae it can produce a foul smelling substance from glands on either side of the anus and its colours advertise this.



To the untrained eye this animal could be confused with the Ratel which is much larger and lacks stripes.



Honey Badger (Ratel)



Mellivora capensis



Honey badgers are fearless members of the mustelidae family that will attack animals as large as lion. They are keen snake eaters pursuing snakes into trees and have some immunity from snake poison. Very active in their habits digging out small rodents from their burrows they are often followed by Jackals and Chanting Goshawks who steal their prey as it bolts. Usually solitary.



Now here’s an interesting one! The only thing that looks anything like a Ratel is a baby Cheetah! They are dark underneath and develop a crest of grey fur above and may be afforded some protection because of the Ratels agressive nature of which the larger predators are certainly well aware.