The nocturnal, arboreal, mainly solitary, and somewhat secretive African Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata) is the sole species in the genus Nandinia and family Nandiniidae. African Palm Civets are among the most common small carnivores in forested regions throughout much of tropical Africa, although they are threatened by both habitat destruction and hunting by humans for food, traditional medicine, and fur for decorative uses (they are the most commonly sold carnivores in markets in Equatorial Guinea and Guinea), as well as to protect crops and poultry. They are found in rain forests and deciduous forests in West and Central Africa from Gambia to southwest Sudan and can also be found in some regions with montane and subtropical forest in northern Angola and eastern and southeastern Africa. They are common in coastal lowland forests and their range extends into montane forest as high as 2500 meters in both West Africa (Cameroon) and East Africa (Tanzania). In addition to rain forests, African Palm Civets are found in riparian forest, deciduous woodland, and savannah woodland, occurring not only in undisturbed forest but also in secondary forest and other disturbed woodlands.
At one time African Palm Civets were placed in the family Viverridae. By the mid-20th century, however, the species was moved to its own family based on several very distinctive morphological features, a taxonomic judgement that has been supported by subsequent phylogenetic analysis based on both molecular and morphological data (e.g., Eizirik et al. 2010).
African Palm Civets feed mainly on fruit, but also take some animal prey such as insects, bird eggs and nestlings, small rodents, and even carrion.
In parts of their range, African Palm Civets are sometimes kept as pets.
(Gaubert 2009 and references therein)
- Eizirik, E., W.J. Murphy, K.-P. Koepfli, et al. 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.
- Gaubert, P. 2009. Nandiniidae (African Palm Civet). Pp. 50-53 in: Wilson, D.E. & Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 1. Carnivores. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
The species is common in most forested areas of East Africa.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
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.
Range mass: 1.7 to 2.1 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average basal metabolic rate: 5.565 W.
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.
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest
Habitat and Ecology
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.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 15.0 years.
Status: captivity: 15.8 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
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.
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average gestation period: 64 days.
Average number of offspring: 2.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 1095 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 1095 days.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Nandinia binotata
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
A great number of these animals inhabit Africa and they seem not threatened in any way.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Civets commonly raid chicken/turkey coops. This has caused many problems for farmers because palm civets are very persistent and they are abundant.
There is no recent reports of hunting or eating this animal, but this used to be popular in Bugisu.
African Palm Civet
The African palm civet (Nandinia binotata), also known as the two-spotted palm civet, is a small mammal, with short legs, small ears, a body resembling a cat, and a long lithe tail as long as its body. Adults usually weigh 1.70 to 2.10 kg (3.7 to 4.6 lb). It is native to the forests of eastern Africa, where it usually inhabits trees. Its diet is omnivorous, and includes rodents, insects, eggs, carrion, fruit, birds and fruit bats. The animal is generally solitary and nocturnal.
Although resembling other civet species (in the family Viverridae) it has been suggested that the African palm civet is genetically distinct, and diverged from other civets before the cats did. They are therefore classified as the only species in genus Nandinia and in their own family, Nandiniidae, although this suggestion is not universally accepted.
- ^ Wozencraft, W. Christopher (16 November 2005). "Order Carnivora (pp. 532-628)". In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14000472.
- ^ Van Rompaey, H., Gaubert, P. & Hoffmann, M. (1996). Nandinia binotata. In: IUCN 1996. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
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