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A civet is a mammal in the family Viverridae. The tropical animals are found in Asia, Africa, and parts of the Mediterranean, and they have long been prized by humans as a source of a very distinct musk, also known as civet. Civet musk is used in perfume blends to create a rich, earthy odor, and although it can be overwhelming on its own, the musk can be appealing when blended. Civets have also been used as a source of food and furs, although these practices are less common than they once were.
At a casual glance, a civet could be mistaken for an arboreal otter, or a strange sort of cat. The animals have elongated, slender bodies, tapering faces, and long tails which are often fluffy. They are omnivorous, feeding on an assortment of beetles, insects, and fruits in their natural environment. Most civets are also nocturnal, preferring to be active at night. As a result, they have highly refined hearing, smell, and vision to assist them in night hunting.
There are over 20 species of animal which are classified as civets, including genets and civet cats like the palm civet. Linsangs and binturongs are also considered to be civets. The animals are closely related to cats, although the two animal families are different. Like cats, civets will adapt to a wide range of territories, although they prefer to live in the canopies of forested regions. The animals are most widely found in jungles, which provide ample sources of food and cover for them.
Civets appear to be able to breed year round, and they bear young in small litters. In some regions, they can prove to be a nuisance, since they enjoy nesting in thatched roofs. They have short, strong legs which are well adapted to hunting and sometimes fishing as well, with nonretractable claws to assist in climbing.
Because civets tend to favor well forested regions, some civet species are considered threatened or endangered due to habitat depletion. Many tropical and subtropical forests around the world are heavily managed for their valuable timber and plant materials. As a result, civets and other creatures are driven deeper into the forest, making civet sightings much more rare. Since civets are naturally shy, they are usually tracked with the aid of hidden cameras, and it can be difficult to get an accurate count of civets in a region. This makes it difficult to determine how threatened many civet species are.