African Linsang

African linsangs live in the rainforests of equatorial Africa around the Congo Basin. They are nocturnal animals and forage for food among the branches. They will use this den for a few days before moving to another part of their territory and constructing a new one. This behaviour ensures that they exploit as much of the food supply in their territory as possible.

African linsang is a good climber and spends more time in the trees than on the ground. During the day it sleeps in a nest, built of green vegetation in a tree, and then emerges at night to hunt for insects and young birds. It also feeds on fruit, nuts and plant material. Elongate and slender, this linsang is brownish-yellow to gray, with dark spots on the body and dark bands ringing the long tail.

African linsangs are among the smallest viverrids in the world. They differ from Asiatic linsangs in that the Asian species have smaller spots and these never run into bands or stripes on the body, just the head and shoulders.

Little is known about the social behaviour of African linsangs. For much of the year they live alone. They are seen foraging in twos sometimes and it is possible that these are breeding pairs. Some nests have been found containing several linsangs. These might be a family group with adolescent offspring who have stayed with their mother after weaning. It is likely that the young are born at all times of year, and that they are cared for in a den. It is thought that each female has 2 or 3 young once or twice a year.

Distribution: West Africa, from Sierra Leone and Gabon to Cameroon and the Congo. Also found on Bioko Island, in Equatorial Guinea.

Habitat: Forests and woodlands.

Food: Insects, birds, fruits and nuts.

Size: 33 - 38 cm (13 - 15 in); 500 - 700 g (17.5 - 24.75 oz).

Maturity: 1 year.

Breeding: Litters of 2-3 produced once or twice a year.

Life span: 5 years in captivity, probably more in the wild.

Status: Unknown.

Spotted Linsang

There are two species of linsang living in Asia, and they are the smallest of the viverrids, the family that includes the cat-like civets and genets. Unlike many other viverrids, they do not produce pungent scents used in defense.

Spotted linsangs are sleek, with thick, velvety fur. Their black spots are arranged in rows along their flanks over an orange-buff or pale brown background. Their long tails have dark rings.

Surprisingly little is known about these carnivores because they are very difficult to observe, especially in their natural forest habitats. They are nocturnal and spend a lot of time in the trees, where they move with sinuous agility through the branches, using their retractable claws to grip on to bark and their long tails for balance. They also forage for food on the ground. During the day, they shelter in nests constructed from sticks and leaves - either in tree hollows or in burrows. Nothing is known about their social behaviour; they are probably territorial like most other small carnivores.

Distribution: Eastern Nepal, southern China and northern Indochina.

Habitat: Forests.

Food: Small mammals, reptiles, birds' eggs and insects.

Size: 30 - 41 cm (12 - 16 in); 598 - 798 g (1.3 - 1.75 lb).

Maturity: 2 - 3 years.

Breeding: Up to 2 litters of 2 - 3 young per year.

Life span: 10 years.

Status: Endangered.

Banded Linsang

Range: Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo.

Habitat: Forest.

Size: Body: 14.75 - 17 in (37.5 - 43 cm); Tail: 12 - 14 in (30.5 - 35.5 cm).

The slender, graceful banded linsang varies from whitish-gray to brownish-gray in color, with four or five dark bands across its back and dark spots on its sides and legs. It is nocturnal and spends much of its life in trees, where it climbs and jumps skilfully, but it is just as agile on the ground. Birds, small mammals, insects, lizards and frogs are all preyed on, and this linsang also eats birds' eggs.

The breeding habits of this species are not well known, but it is believed to bear two litters a year of 2 or 3 young each. Young are born in a nest in a hollow tree or in a burrow.