African palm civet

The African palm civet (Nandinia binotata), also known as the two-spotted palm civet, is a small feliform mammal widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.[1]

African palm civet
The carnivores of West Africa (Nandinia binotata white background)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Nandiniidae
Pocock, 1929
Genus: Nandinia
Gray, 1843
N. binotata
Binomial name
Nandinia binotata
(Gray, 1830)
Map of Africa showing highlighted range covering southern West Africa and much of central Africa
African palm civet range

Viverra binotata Gray 1830


The African palm civet is grey to dark brown with dark spots on the back. It has short legs, small ears, a lean body, and a long ringed tail. It has two sets of scent glands on the lower abdomen and between the third and fourth toes on each foot, which secrete a strong smelling substance used to mark territory and in mating. Adult females reach a body length of 37–61 cm (15–24 in) with a 34–70 cm (13–28 in) long tail and weigh 1.2–2.7 kg (2.6–6.0 lb). Adult males reach 39.8–62.5 cm (15.7–24.6 in) in body length with a 43–76.2 cm (16.9–30.0 in) long tail and weigh 1.3–3 kg (2.9–6.6 lb).[3]

The African palm civet’s ear canal is not divided and cartilaginous at the end.[4]

Distribution and habitat

The African palm civet ranges throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa from Guinea to South Sudan, south to Angola and into eastern Zimbabwe. It has been recorded in deciduous forests, lowland rainforests, gallery and riverine forests, savanna woodlands, and logged forests up to an altitude of 2,500 m (8,200 ft).[1]

In Senegal, it was observed in 2000 in Niokolo-Koba National Park, which encompasses mainly open habitat dominated by grasses.[5] In Liberian Upper Guinean forests, it was sighted in Gbarpolu County and Bong County during surveys in 2013.[6] In the 1950s, one individual was wild-caught on Bioko Island.[7] However, it was not recorded on the island during subsequent surveys between 1986 and 2015.[8]

In Gabon’s Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, it was recorded in forested areas during a camera-trapping survey in 2012.[9] In Batéké Plateau National Park, it was recorded only west of the Mpassa River during surveys carried out between June 2014 and May 2015.[10]

In Zanzibar, it was recorded in groundwater forest on Unguja Island in 2003.[11]

Behaviour and ecology

The African palm civet is a nocturnal, largely arboreal mammal that spends most of the time on large branches, among lianas in the canopy of trees. It eats fruits such as those of the African corkwood tree (Musanga cecropioides), Uapaca, persimmon (Diospyros hoyleana), fig trees (Ficus), papayas (Carica papaya) and bananas (Musa).[12]

Males have home ranges of 34–153 ha (0.13–0.59 sq mi) and females of 29–70 ha (0.11–0.27 sq mi). The home range of a dominant male includes home ranges of several females.[12]


In Gabon, females were recorded to give birth in the long wet season and at the onset of the dry season between September and January.[12] The female usually gives birth after a gestation period of 2–3 months. A litter consists of up to four young that are suckled for around three months. While she has suckling young the female's mammary glands produce an orange-yellow liquid which discolours her abdomen and the young civets' fur. This probably discourages males from mating with nursing females. Its generation length is 7.8 years.[13]

Taxonomy and evolution

In 1830, John Edward Gray first described an African palm civet using the name Viverra binotata based on a zoological specimen obtained from a museum in Leiden.[14] In 1843, Gray proposed the genus Nandinia and subordinated Viverra binotata to this genus.[15]

In 1929, Reginald Innes Pocock proposed the family Nandiniidae, with the genus Nandinia as sole member. He argued that it differs from the Aeluroidea by the structure and shape of its ear canal and mastoid part of the temporal bone.[4]

Results of morphological and molecular genetic analyses indicate that it differs from viverrids and diverged from the Feliformia about 44.5 million years ago.[16]


The African palm civet is threatened by habitat loss and hunting for bushmeat.[1] In 2006, it was estimated that more than 4,300 African palm civets are hunted yearly in the Nigerian part and around 3,300 in the Cameroon part of the Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests.[17]

In Guinea, dead African palm civets were recorded in spring 1997 on bushmeat market in villages located in the vicinity of the National Park of Upper Niger.[18] Dried heads of African palm civets were found in 2007 at the Bohicon and Dantokpa Markets in southern Benin, suggesting that they are used as fetish in animal rituals.[19] The attitude of rural people in Ghana towards African palm civets is hostile; they consider them a menace to their food resources and safety of children.[20] In Gabon, it is among the most frequently found small carnivores for sale in bushmeat markets.[21] Upper Guinean forests in Liberia are considered a biodiversity hotspot. They have already been fragmented into two blocks. Large tracts are threatened by commercial logging and mining activities, and are converted for agricultural use including large-scale oil palm plantations in concessions obtained by a foreign company.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Gaubert, P., Bahaa-el-din, L., Ray, J. & Do Linh San, E. (2015). "Nandinia binotata". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015: e.T41589A45204645. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41589A45204645.en.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  3. ^ Van Rompaey, H. and Ray, J.C. (2013). "Nandinia binotata Two-spotted Palm Civet (African Palm Civet, Tree Civet)". In Kingdon, J. and Hoffmann, M. (eds.). The Mammals of Africa. V. Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids and Rhinoceroses. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 140−144.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Pocock, R. I. (1929). "Carnivora". Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 14th Edition, Volume IV. pp. 896–900.
  5. ^ McGrew, W.C., Baldwin, P.J., Marchant, L.F., Pruetz, J.D., Tutin, C.E. (2014). "Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) and their mammalian sympatriates: Mt. Assirik, Niokolo-Koba National Park, Senegal". Primates. 55 (4): 525−532. doi:10.1007/s10329-014-0434-2.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Bene, J. C. K., Bitty, E. A., Bohoussou, K. H., Abedilartey, M., Gamys, J. and Soribah, P. A. (2013). "Current conservation status of large mammals in Sime Darby Oil Palm Concession in Liberia". Global Journal of Biology, Agriculture & Health Sciences. 2 (2): 93−102.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Eisentraut, M. (1973). Die Wirbeltierfauna von Fernando Po und Westkamerun. Bonn: Bonner Zoologische Monographien 3.
  8. ^ Hoffmann, M., Cronin, D.T., Hearn, G. and Butynski, T. M. & Do Linh San, E. (2015). "A review of evidence for the presence of Two-spotted Palm Civet Nandinia binotata and four other small carnivores on Bioko, Equatorial Guinea". Small Carnivore Conservation (52 & 53): 13−23.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Nakashima, Y. (2015). "Inventorying medium-and large-sized mammals in the African lowland rainforest using camera trapping". Tropics. 23 (4): 151–164. doi:10.3759/tropics.23.151.
  10. ^ Hedwig, D., Kienast, I., Bonnet, M., Curran, B. K., Courage, A., Boesch, C., Kühl, H. S. and King, T. (2018). "A camera trap assessment of the forest mammal community within the transitional savannah‐forest mosaic of the Batéké Plateau National Park, Gabon". African Journal of Ecology. 56 (4): 777–790. doi:10.1111/aje.12497.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  11. ^ Perkin, A. (2004). "A new range record for the African palm civet Nandinia binotata (Carnivora, Viverridae) from Unguja Island, Zanzibar". African Journal of Ecology. 42 (42): 232–234. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.2004.00499.x.
  12. ^ a b c Charles-Dominique, P. (1978). "Écologie et vie sociale de Nandinia binotata (Carnivores, Viverridés): Comparaison avec les prosimiens sympatriques du Gabon". La Terre et la Vie (32): 477−528.
  13. ^ Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. (2013). "Generation length for mammals". Nature Conservation (5): 87–94.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Gray, J. E. (1830). "Fam. Felidae. Gen. Viverra". Spicilegia zoologica; or, original figures and short systematic descriptions of new and unfigured animals. London: Treüttel, Würtz. p. 9.
  15. ^ Gray, J. E. (1843). "Viverrina. The Nandine". List of the Specimens of Mammalia in the Collection of the British Museum. London: British Museum (Natural History). pp. 47–56.
  16. ^ Eizirik, E.; Murphy, W. J.; Koepfli, K. P.; Johnson, W. E.; Dragoo, J. W.; Wayne, R. K.; O'Brien, S. J. (2010). "Pattern and timing of diversification of the mammalian order Carnivora inferred from multiple nuclear gene sequences". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 56 (1): 49–63. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.01.033. PMID 20138220.
  17. ^ Fa, J. E., Seymour, S., Dupain, J. E. F., Amin, R., Albrechtsen, L. and Macdonald, D. (2006). "Getting to grips with the magnitude of exploitation: bushmeat in the Cross–Sanaga rivers region, Nigeria and Cameroon". Biological Conservation. 129 (4): 497–510. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2005.11.031.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  18. ^ Ziegler, S., Nikolaus, G., Hutterer, R. (2002). "High mammalian diversity in the newly established National Park of Upper Niger, Republic of Guinea". Oryx. 36 (1): 73–80. doi:10.1017/S0030605301000011 (inactive 2019-03-16).CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  19. ^ Djagoun, C. A. M. S. and Gaubert, P. (2009). "Small carnivorans from southern Benin: a preliminary assessment of diversity and hunting pressure". Small Carnivore Conservation (40): 1–10.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  20. ^ Campbell, M. (2009). "Proximity in a Ghanaian savanna: Human reactions to the African palm civet Nandinia binotata". Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. 30 (2): 220–231. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9493.2009.00369.x.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  21. ^ Bahaa-el-din, L., Henschel, P., Aba’a, R., Abernethy, K., Bohm, T., Bout, N., Coad, L., Head, J., Inoue, E., Lahm, S., Lee, M. E., Maisels, F., Rabanal, L., Starkey, M., Taylor, G., Vanthomme, A., Nakashima, Y. and Hunter, L. (2013). "Notes on the distribution and status of small carnivores in Gabon". Small Carnivore Conservation (48): 19–29.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)

The genus Arctocephalus consists of fur seals. Arctocephalus translates to "bear head."

Asiatic linsang

The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.


Carnivora (; from Latin carō (stem carn-) "flesh" and vorāre "to devour") is a diverse scrotiferan order that includes over 280 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, whereas the word "carnivore" (often popularly applied to members of this group) can refer to any meat-eating organism. Carnivorans are the most diverse in size of any mammalian order, ranging from the least weasel (Mustela nivalis), at as little as 25 g (0.88 oz) and 11 cm (4.3 in), to the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), which can weigh up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb), to the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), whose adult males weigh up to 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) and measure up to 6.7 m (22 ft) in length.

Carnivorans have teeth and claws adapted for catching and eating other animals. Many hunt in packs and are social animals, giving them an advantage over larger prey. Some carnivorans, such as cats and pinnipeds, depend entirely on meat for their nutrition. Others, such as raccoons and bears, are more omnivorous, depending on the habitat. The giant panda is largely a herbivore, but also feeds on fish, eggs and insects. The polar bear subsists mainly on seals.

Carnivorans are split into two suborders: Feliformia ("catlike") and Caniformia ("doglike").


Catopuma is a genus containing two Asian small wild cat species, the bay cat (C. badia) and the Asian golden cat (C. temminckii).

Both are typically reddish brown in colour, with darker markings on the head. They inhabit forested environments in Southeast Asia. The bay cat is restricted to the island of Borneo. Originally thought to be two subspecies of the same animal, recent genetic analysis has confirmed they are, indeed, separate species.The two species diverged from one another 4.9-5.3 million years ago, long before Borneo separated from the neighboring islands. Their closest living relative is the marbled cat, from which the common ancestor of the genus Catopuma diverged around 9.4 million years ago.


A civet is a small, lithe-bodied, mostly nocturnal mammal native to tropical Asia and Africa, especially the tropical forests. The term civet applies to over a dozen different mammal species. Most of the species diversity is found in southeast Asia. The best-known civet species is the African civet, Civettictis civetta, which historically has been the main species from which was obtained a musky scent used in perfumery. The word civet may also refer to the distinctive musky scent produced by the animals.

A minority of writers use "civet" to refer only to Civettictis, Viverra and Viverricula civets. But in more common usage in English, the name also covers Chrotogale, Cynogale, Diplogale, Hemigalus, Arctogalidia, Macrogalidia, Paguma, and Paradoxurus civets.


Feliformia (also Feloidea) is a suborder within the order Carnivora consisting of "cat-like" carnivorans, including cats (large and small), hyenas, mongooses, civets, and related taxa. Feliformia stands in contrast to the other suborder of Carnivora, Caniformia ("dog-like" carnivorans).

The separation of the Carnivora into the broad groups of feliforms and caniforms is widely accepted, as is the definition of Feliformia and Caniformia as suborders (sometimes superfamilies). The classification of feliforms as part of the Feliformia suborder or under separate groupings continues to evolve.

Systematic classifications dealing with only extant taxa include all feliforms into the Feliformia suborder, though variations exist in the definition and grouping of families and genera. Indeed, molecular phylogenies suggest that all extant Feliformia are monophyletic.The extant families as reflected in the taxa chart at right and the discussions in this article reflect the most contemporary and well-supported views (as at the time of writing this article).

Systematic classifications dealing with both extant and extinct taxa vary more widely. Some separate the feliforms (extant and extinct) as: Aeluroidea (superfamily) and Feliformia (suborder). Others include all feliforms (extant, extinct and "possible ancestors") into the Feliformia suborder. Some studies suggest this inclusion of "possible ancestors" into Feliformia (or even Carnivora) may be spurious. The extinct (†) families as reflected in the taxa chart are the least problematic in terms of their relationship with extant feliforms (with the most problematic being Nimravidae).


Gustafsonia is an extinct genus of carnivoran belonging to the family Amphicyonidae (a bear dog). The type species, Gustafsonia cognita, was described in 1986 by Eric Paul Gustafson, who originally interpreted it as a miacid and named it Miacis cognitus. It was subsequently considered to be the only species of the diverse genus Miacis that belonged to the crown-group Carnivora, within the Caniformia, and it was ultimately assigned to the family Amphicyonidae. The type specimen or holotype was discovered in Reeve's bonebed, western Texas, in the Chambers Tuff Formation in 1986. The University of Texas holds this specimen. It is the only confirmed fossil of this species.

Indian brown mongoose

The Indian brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus) looks similar to the short-tailed mongoose from Southeast Asia and is sometimes believed to be only a subspecies of this latter. The Indian brown mongoose is found in southwest India and Sri Lanka.

List of species in order Carnivora

This list contains the species in order Carnivora.


Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Mephitis (genus)

The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.


Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).


Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.

Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.


Paradoxurus is a genus within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. As of 2005, this genus was defined as comprising three species native to Southeast Asia:

the Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)

the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)

the brown palm civet (P. jerdoni)In 2009, it was proposed to also include the golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus), the Sri Lankan brown palm civet (P. montanus) and the golden dry-zone palm civet (P. stenocephalus), which are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Patagonian weasel

The Patagonian weasel (Lyncodon patagonicus) is a small mustelid that is the only member of the genus Lyncodon. Its geographic range is the Pampas of western Argentina and sections of Chile. An early mention of the animal is in the Journal of Syms Covington, who sailed with Charles Darwin on his epic voyage aboard HMS Beagle.


Pusa is a genus of the earless seals, within the family Phocidae. The three species of this genus were split from the genus Phoca, and some sources still give Phoca as an acceptable synonym for Pusa.

The three species in this genus are found in Arctic and subarctic regions, as well as around the Caspian Sea. This includes these countries and regions: Russia, Scandinavia, Britain, Greenland, Canada, the United States, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Japan. Due to changing local environmental conditions, the ringed seals found in the Canadian region has varied patterns of growth. The northern Canadian ringed seals grow slowly to a larger size, while the southern seals grow quickly to a smaller size.

Only the Caspian seal is endangered.


Speothos is a genus of canid found in Central and South America. The genus includes the living bush dog, Speothos venaticus, and an extinct Pleistocene species, Speothos pacivorus. Unusually, the fossil species was identified and named before the extant species was discovered, with the result that the type species of Speothos is S. pacivorus.


Viverra is a mammalian genus that was first nominated and described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 as comprising several species including the large Indian civet (V. zibetha). The genus was subordinated to the viverrid family by John Edward Gray in 1821.


Viverridae is a family of small to medium-sized mammals, the viverrids (), comprising 15 genera, which are subdivided into 38 species. This family was named and first described by John Edward Gray in 1821. Members of this family are commonly called civets or genets. Viverrids are found in South and Southeast Asia, across the Wallace Line, all over Africa, and into southern Europe. Their occurrence in Sulawesi and in some of the adjoining islands shows them to be ancient inhabitants of the Old World tropics.

Extant Carnivora species

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