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Civets are small, nocturnal mammals that belong to the family Viverridae. Native to tropical areas throughout Africa and Asia, civets are known for their unique vocalizations.

This article seeks to explore what sounds civets make in order to gain further insight into these animals’ behavior. In particular, this article focuses on two types of vocalization made by civets: purring and chirping.

The frequency, duration, and intensity of these noises will be discussed in detail as well as how they can provide valuable information about a civet’s environment or current state of mind. By examining the various sounds civets produce, it may be possible to better understand their biology and ecology.

African palm civet

Types Of Vocalization

Civets are known to produce a variety of vocalizations.

GrowlsLow, deep vocalizations expressing aggression or territorial disputes.
ChattersRapid series of chattering or chittering sounds during excitement or social interactions.
HissesSharp hissing sounds used for intimidation or when feeling threatened.
ScreechesHigh-pitched piercing calls made when in distress or experiencing pain.
PurringSoft, rhythmic sounds indicating contentment or relaxation.
ChirpsShort, high-pitched vocalizations for communication or during courtship.

The most common type is the call and response which occurs by two civets exchanging calls, usually as part of communication between mates or members of different social groups.

Alarm calls are also produced by civets when they sense danger in their environment while foraging or travelling. These alarm calls may be short high-pitched notes made continuously or repeated several times followed by longer higher pitched chirps.

Civets will also use low-intensity close range growls and barks during interactions with other individuals from the same species.

In addition, some civet species have been observed to make loud whooping sounds that can carry over long distances. This form of vocalization has been suggested to occur mainly during territorial defence and courtship behaviours.


Civets are known to purr when they feel safe and content.

For example, a wildlife biologist studying civets in their natural habitats has observed that the animals often make loud purring noises when eating or sleeping peacefully. Additionally, these purrs can also occur during social activities such as when two civets groom each other.

Unlike most cats, which generally prefer meat in their diet, civets have a more omnivorous palate and enjoy fruits and seeds along with small mammals and birds as part of their dietary preferences.

This is because civets typically spend much of their daytime resting and foraging during the night – meaning that although they still hunt prey like many other carnivores, they will on occasion supplement their meals with other sources of nutrition due to their nocturnal sleeping habits.

As such, it makes sense that purring could be associated with restful moments before or after food consumption.


Civets produce a variety of sounds, including chirps. Chirping is most commonly used as an alert call to communicate with other civets and is emitted when the animals feel threatened or are discovering new objects in their environment. It serves as a warning call for other members of its species to take caution and remain on guard.

Hibernation calls and mating songs may also be communicated through this method. Chirping can consist of either single notes or multiple note sequences that form a pattern. These notes range from soft squeaks to loud trills which vary in frequency depending on the context they are being uttered in.

Single-note chirps often come out as quick bursts while multi-note patterns may last up to 5 seconds long and have been observed lasting even longer during mating season.

In addition:

  • Civets use chirping to communicate various signals such as warnings, hibernation calls, and mating songs
  • The intensity of their chirps can range from soft squeaks to loud trills
  • Their vocalizations can include both single notes or multiple note sequences forming patterns
  • Chirps can last anywhere from short bursts up to 5 seconds long during mating season

Wildlife biologists studying civets have documented how these animals express themselves vocally by using different types of sound production like chirping. This behavior has been found useful for communication between fellow group mates, sending danger warnings, expressing courtship behaviors, and even deterring potential predators. In some cases, it can help neighboring groups identify each other’s presence within their shared habitat, allowing them to peacefully coexist without conflict.

Frequency And Intensity

Studies have revealed that civets produce a wide range of vocalizations, with an average of 20 distinct sounds. These include soft purring, hissing and growling noise, as well as loud shrieking calls. Civets are known for their silence in the presence of predators or when they feel threatened; however, during social interactions such as feeding or mating, they will emit various kinds of noises to communicate with other members of their species.

Vocalization patterns vary between males and females. Male civets tend to make louder and more frequent vocalizations compared to female civets, which usually remain silent unless provoked by something. This implies that male civets use sound signals to define territories and attract mates while female civets rely on scent markings instead.

Overall, it appears that sound plays an important role among these animals in terms of communication and territoriality. It is likely that its presence also serves other functions such as helping individuals find food sources or recognize each other within their group structure.


Ecological Significance

The ecological significance of civet sounds is immense. From a wildlife biologist’s point of view, the importance lies in the communication between members of their species, as well as with other animals inhabiting their habitat. Civets rely heavily on vocalizations for social behavior and mating calls:

  • During courtship displays, male civets will produce loud growls to attract females for mating purposes.
  • By communicating through various types of vocalization and body language, female civets are able to assert dominance over males that enter her territory.
  • Young civets use bleating cries to contact their mothers when they become separated from them or need protection.
  • Alarm calls also play an important role in warning others about potential predators nearby.

Civet vocalizations have been observed by many researchers during field studies, providing valuable insight into different aspects of its ecology and behavior. Their diverse range of vocalizations has allowed scientists to gather information on how these mammals interact in the wild, enabling us to better understand this fascinating species.

The African Palm Civet’s Predators: Unmasking the Threats


Civets are an intriguing species of mammal known for their unique vocalizations. Understanding their communication styles can provide insight into the ecology and behavior of these animals.

Through detailed study, it has been determined that civets purr to express contentment, chirp as a warning call when alarmed or threatened, and vary frequency and intensity depending on the circumstance. Furthermore, researchers have suggested that civets may even use calls to identify each other in large groups.

With this knowledge, one question remains: How else do civets communicate? Future research should seek to uncover further details about civet communication dynamics. Such studies could help us gain greater appreciation for the complexity of their behaviors and further our understanding of wildlife ecology more broadly.