Ambergris, Castor, Civet and musk are the four principal animal perfumes.
Perfumes have been part of peoples’ lives since time immemorial. There are four major animal perfumes in the world. Animal perfumes are valuable for the permanence that their presence imparts to the more evanescent vegetable odors.
Here are the four principal animal perfumes
Sperm Whale produces ambergris
Ambergris is an opaque, grayish, waxy morbid secretion from the intestines of the sperm whale, is supposed to be produced as the result of a diseased condition of the organs. Ambergris has a peculiar sweet, earthy odor that is similar to isopropyl alcohol. It is found floating on the sea or lying on the shore. Ambergris can be found all throughout the world. Bahamas Islands and Providence Islands in the Caribbean are the major sources of commercially collected ambergris.
Beavers produce Castor
Castor is a glandular secretion of beaver. When fresh, it is semi-liquid; it is prepared for commerce by drying in smoke. Both beaver testicles and castoreum, a bitter-tasting secretion with a slightly fetid odor contained in dried preputial or vaginal follicles of male or female beaver have been articles of trade for use in perfume and medicine.
Civet Cats produce Civet
Civet is highly valued as a fragrance and stabilizing agent for perfume secreted by the civet cat (Viverra zibetha), an animal of African origin. Civet is found in a double pouch under the tail, from which it is taken from the living, caged animal 2 to 3 times a week. civet. Both male and female civets produce the strong-smelling secretion, which is produced by the civet’s perineal glands. It is harvested by either killing the animal or removing the glands, or by scraping the secretions from the glands of a live animal.
Musk Deer and other animals produce Musk
Musk is one of the most expensive animal products in the world. It is a soft, reddish-brown, and powdery or the dried secretion of a penetrating odor obtained from the preputial follicles or musk bag of the male musk deer. It is not only used by perfumers but also in medicine.
A similar substance is secreted by the musk turtle, musk ox, muskrat, musk duck, musk shrew, musk beetle, crocodiles, and snakes. (Photos below are courtesy of Wikipedia)
This animal is also another source of musk. Sternotherus is a genus of aquatic turtle known commonly as the musk turtle. They are found throughout the US and Mexico.
Musk Ox or Musk Sheep
Musk ox is a grazing animal of the Far North. It is neither an ox nor a sheep, but is related to both. Musk oxen are named for the musky odor emanating from their fur.
Muskrat is also called musquash, a large North American rodent. It is named for its musk gland secretion, which is similar to that used in perfumes.
The male Musk Duck is the largest of Australia’s ducks and has a powerful build. Musk Ducks get their name from the strong musk odor produced from a gland on the rump. Musk Ducks are found only in Australia.
This insect which is another source of musk called the musk beetle (Aromia moschata) is a Eurasian species of longhorn beetle. Its name comes from the musky smell it emits.
There are two pairs of musk glands found in crocodiles, one pair situated at the corner of the jaw and the other pair in the cloaca.
Musk glands are also found in snakes.
Animal extracts are always used in minute concentrations because of their overpowering odor. When they are diluted to the right proportion, they give a glorious effect. They give the scent a richness and warmth that only an animal note can give. People are always willing to spend money for perfumes that’s why perfume industry is one of the highest generating industries in the world.
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Published in: Consumer Information