The species is common in most forested areas of East Africa.
Civets are most common in forest areas of Eastern Africa. They will occasionally wander out of the forest to search for food. The typical shelter is a tree, where they spend most of their time.
The Palm Civet is a very inconspicuous animal. The coarse, cryptically colored coat is blotched and mottled and blends with the rough bark of trees and the shadows cast by leaves. The eyes are yellow-green and the pupils close to a vertical hairline. The well muscled and sturdy tail, which is usually as long as the body, is employed as a brace when the forepaws are being used for prey. All four limbs are powerful. They exhibit highly flexible joints bound with thick sheets of connective tissue. The toes and palms of the feet have pink naked pads and an area of very thick skin, which acts as friction pad whenever the hindlimbs take weight of the body. It is a small animal with short legs, small ears, and a body resembling a cat.
Breeding takes place twice a year, with two birth seasons, once in May and the other in October. These months are during the wet season are followed by dry periods. The young are born after a 64 day gestation period in an arboreal shelter such as a hollow branch. Up to four young are born, but the average number is two. The female produces milk from as many teats as there are young, which means that each kitten uses a single nipple. The young purr like kittens when sucking. An interesting secretion is produced by the skin overlaying the mammary glands. It stains the fur of the belly a brilliant orange-yellow and rubs off on to the young. It appears to repel sexual approaches by males and/or neutralize attacks on the young.
This animal is predominantly solitary. It is active from dusk for about four hours, and then for a few hours before dawn. The only time civets accompany each other is when the female has young. The young follow the mother very closely until they approach adult size. There are records of adult male and female pairs, but this is unlikely to be a lasting bond. There have been sightings of approximately 12 to 15 individuals attracted to small areas of forest where fruit trees were abundant, but these appear to be temporary aggregations. This animal produces numerous smells and secretions that are used for a variety of purposes. Between the third and fourth toes of each foot there is a glandular pocket that can scent the trail. Along the midline of the lower abdomen is a narrow slit that opens up to reveal an area of glandular skin. This area produces a strong-scented brown secretion.
Rodents, insects, eggs, carrion, pineapples, fallen fruit, birds and fruit bats are part of the diet. While the Palm Civet has truly omnivorous tastes, it does not hunt prey such as adult birds and mammals when they are active. Instead, it visits roosts and hen yards to get an easy kill. Such things as rodents, insects, and fallen fruit are sought on level ground. The animal also travels a good distance out of the forest in search of food. They hold their food with the forepaws, and when in branches they twist their hindfeet about in a variety of positions in order to get a stable base so the forearms may be used to manipulate food. Living prey is held fast and killed with a series of fast, deadly bites; small mammals and birds are swallowed whole. Even though these animals do eat meat, they are omnivorous and their most common source of food is fruit.
There is no recent reports of hunting or eating this animal, but this used to be popular in Bugisu.
Civets commonly raid chicken/turkey coops. This has caused many problems for farmers because palm civets are very persistent and they are abundant.
A great number of these animals inhabit Africa and they seem not threatened in any way.
Wojtek Nocon (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
Kingdom, Jonathan, 1989. East African Mammals. The Univeristy of Chicago Press.
Nowak, Ronald. Walker's Mammals of the World. John Hopkins University Press, 1983.