The best and the most expensive of fragrance are often obtained from natural essential oils like civet…Civet is probably the most sought after oil in the field of fragrances…Reasons being many…
The civet is a small, carnivorous wildcat native to Africa and India. The musk produced by a gland at the base of the civet’s tail – also called civet oil – is widely used as a perfume ingredient in North America and Europe. Frequently, civet oil is reproduced synthetically for use in perfume compositions.
Pure civet has a very strong, disagreeable odor. The scent is said to be similar to musk, but with a more smoky, sweaty aroma. However, when diluted and used in minute quantities, civet can add depth and warmth to a fragrance. It is also an excellent fixative, and is used in many top-quality perfumes to stabilize other, more delicate or volatile ingredients.
Civets with a spotted or striped coat have five toes on each foot. There is webbing between the toes, and the claws are totally or semi-retractile. The pointed ears extend above the profile of the head. The ear flaps have pockets or bursae on the outside margins, similar to domestic cats. Their teeth are specialized for an omnivorous diet, including –
- Shearing carnassial teeth
- Flat-crowned molars in both upper and lower jaws
Teeth number from 38 to 40, depending on the species.
Primarily nocturnal foragers with semiarboreal and arboreal habits, civets typically ambush their prey. During the day, civets usually rest in a hollow tree, rock crevice or empty, shallow burrow. They are solitary animals maintaining a wide home range (250 acres [101 ha]) by scent marking trees on the borders of their territory.
The term “civet” is derived from an Arabic word describing the oily fluid and its odor secreted by the perineal glands. Scent marking is important in civet communication, but the method differs among species from passively passing the scent when moving about causing the gland to rub vegetation, to squatting and then wiping or rubbing the gland on the ground or some prominent object.
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