The husbandry, welfare and health of captive African civets (Vivera civetica) in western Ethiopa
A study was carried out during the period from September 2001 to August 2002 in Jimma zone, western Ethiopia to evaluate the husbandry and health of captive African civets (Vivera civetica). Wild civets were found in the wild in all 13 of the districts in the zone, although traditional
civet-keeping was practiced in only five. Civet management practices were determined via the use of a questionnaire survey of 15 farms; containing a total of 107 civets. Health was assessed by routine clinical examination, and examination of faecal and blood smears of 55 civets selected at
random. All civets were male and over one year of age, with a mean weight of 12.5 ± 0.79 kg. Fifteen percent were in poor body condition, and only 13% had a good body condition score. An average of 7.13 civets were kept on each farm. Farmers obtained wild civets by either trapping them
themselves, purchasing them from dealers or a combination of both. The civets were housed separately in wooden cages, with an average size of 1.0 × 0.5 × 1.0 m (length × breadth × height) and kept in a communal thatched room. They were fed boiled meat, milk (fresh or
powdered), eggs, butter, corn soup and fruit juice. Although an assessment of the behavioural parameters of welfare were outwith the scope of this study, trapping methods, adaptation processes, housing condition, restraint and the techniques for musk extraction from the anal glands were stressful
and injurious, and have important welfare implications. Approximately 20 g of musk was expressed from a single civet every 9-15 days. The civets often sustained injuries while being restrained during musk harvesting; 14% had swelling and bruising, 6.5% fractures and 11.2% had eye lesions.
Cestodes were the most prevalent gastrointestinal parasites, followed by ancylostomes, ascarides and Tricuris spp. Skin lesions were identified in 19.6% of civets examined and an assortment of fleas and ticks including Haemophysalis leachi, Rhipicephalus and Amblyoma
spp were found on the body. Trypanosoma congolense and Babesia felis were identified in blood smears taken from four animals. This study shows there is an urgent need to invest in research into improving the welfare, husbandry and health of civets, as well as providing educational
programmes for those who farm these animals.