Genet

Small-spotted Genet

Range: S.W. Europe: S.W. France, Spain and Portugal; Africa, Middle East.

Habitat: Semidesert, scrub, savanna.

Size: Body: 19.75 - 23.5 in (50 - 60 cm); Tail: 15.75 - 18.75 in (40 - 48 cm).

The small-spotted genet is a slender, short-legged animal. It is marked with dark spots, which may form lines down its whitish to brownish-gray body. Its head is small and its muzzle is pointed. The genet's long, impressive tail is encircled down its length with black bands.

An agile, graceful animal, the small-spotted genet moves on land with its tail held straight out behind and climbs well in trees and bushes.

It spends the day sleeping in an abandoned burrow of another animal, in a rock crevice or on the branch of a tree and starts to hunt at dusk.

Sight, hearing and sense of smell are good, and the genet stalks its prey, crouching almost flat before pouncing. Most prey, such as rodents, reptiles and insects, is taken on the ground, but the genet will climb trees to take roosting or nesting birds; it also kills poultry.

The small-spotted genet normally lives alone or in pairs. A litter of 2 or 3 young is born in a hole in the ground, in a tree, or among rocks after a gestation period of between 68 and 77 days. The young genets are born blind, and their eyes open after between 5 and 12 days. They are suckled for up to 3 months and become fully independent by about 9 months.

Large-spotted Genet

Size: 50- 60 cm (19.75 - 23.5 in).

This species is found mainly in the Cape region of South Africa - another name for it is Cape genet - although its range does extend as far north as southern Sudan. As its name suggests, this species has large grey-brown spots on its back, which are surrounded by paler fur. An alternative common name is blotched genet. This species of genet is found in habitats that contain plenty of good hiding places. They live among tall grasses and dense woodland, and in drier parts of their range are found in the thick vegetation along river banks. Large-spotted genets prey on a variety of small mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates. They also supplement their meat diet with fruits.

Aquatic Genet

The aquatic genet is a very rare cat-like animal that is found in the dense tropical forests of the Congo. Very little is known about the habits of this secretive animal. It is thought that they live alone and spend a lot of time in or near water, feeding on fish. There are also reports that they eat frogs and the roots and tubers of aquatic plants.

Unlike other genets, this species does not have spots on its back. It has white spots between the eyes.

Most of what is known is surmised from studying the anatomy of the species. Unlike other genets, aquatic genets do not have hairs on their palms. This difference helps the genets feel for prey in muddy water holes and also grip on to more slippery victims. They also have small olfactory bulbs in their brains, which suggests that they do not have a very good sense of smell - not particularly important for locating prey in water. The aquatic genet’s premolars are larger than the molars farther back in the mouth. This is likely to be another adaptation that helps the animal grip on to slippery, struggling prey.

Distribution: Central Africa.

Habitat: Rainforests.

Food: Fish.

Size: 45 cm (17.75 in); 1.5 kg (3.25 lb).

Maturity: 1 year.

Breeding: 1 young born each year.

Life span: Unknown; other species reach 20 years old.

Status: Unknown.

Angolan Genet

Angolan genets live across southern African between the latitudes of 5 and 15 degrees south. Their range includes the countries of Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. They are most commonly found in forests but will venture out on to savannahs that receive enough rain for tall grasses to grow.

Angolan genets occupy a small territory in which they prey on a range of small animals, including rodents, birds, lizards and reptiles. They hunt mainly in the treetops, using their long agile bodies to weave through the dense branches.

Angolan genets have dark red fur with large black or brown spots forming a symmetrical pattern on either side of the spine. The longer hairs along the spine stand up into a crest when the genet is threatened. Like in other genets, this species has large eyes for seeing in the dark. Each eye is set facing forwards, so the animals can judge distances accurately.

They are nocturnal creatures and avoid contact with other genets. They mark the borders of their territories with smelly anal secretions, which are also expelled in larger quantities when the genet is under attack. A male's territory encompasses those of several females, and he will mate with each female once or twice a year. Litters are born 10 weeks after mating.

Distribution: Southern Africa, from Zambia and Mozambique to the Congo.

Habitat: Rainforest and savannah.

Food: Small vertebrates and invertebrates.

Size: 40 - 50 cm (15.75 - 19.75 in); 1.5kg (3.25 lb).

Maturity: Unknown.

Breeding: 2 litters of up to 4 young produced each year. The young are hairless and blind and born in a tree hollow.

Life span: Unknown, but other genets live for 20 years.

Status: Common.

Common Genet

Common genets, also called small-spotted genets, are related to civets. They are common in Africa, and a few are found in western Europe, although biologists think that these are descended from genets introduced to the area many years ago. Various races of the common genet exist through its wide range, one of which is restricted to Majorca and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean.

Genets live alone or in pairs, resting by day in sheltered spots or abandoned burrows. They feed at night, hunting for small animals in a range of habitats, from dense forest to open grassland. They climb trees to prey on roosting birds or silently stalk victims on the ground. These genets are adept at climbing and hunting off the ground. Their sharp claws - which are not always evident - help them to maintain their balance and grab prey. They can fall victim to snakes such as pythons, as well as owls and leopards. Common genets become active at dusk, as reflected by their large eyes.

A row of black erectile hairs is usually present along the middle of the back of the common genet. The tail has black and white rings. A genet's claws can be withdrawn inside the paws, just like a cat's.

They look rather like cats, and have a similar vocabulary of sounds - able to miaow, purr and hiss. Genets mainly communicate by sound and smell, but also use i their tails to signal. In warmer parts, genets breed during the wet season, with a few females managing to produce two litters each year.

Distribution: Occurs throughout Africa in wooded areas, being the most widely distributed species of genet. Also present in mainland Western Europe and the Middle East.

Habitat: Forests and grasslands.

Weight: 1 - 3 kg (2.2 - 7 lb).

Length: 80 - 106 cm (32 - 42 in); body and tail are of similar lengths; about 15 cm (6 in) tall.

Maturity: 2 years

Gestation Period: 70 - 78 days.

Breeding: 1 - 3; weaning occurs at about 8 weeks.

Food: Carnivorous, feeding on invertebrates, rodents, birds and their eggs, amphibians and reptiles.

Lifespan: 10 - 13 years.

Status: Common.

Stripe

A black stripe runs down the centre of the back.

Spotted patterning

This species is also called the small-spotted genet, because of the size of its spots.

Background colour

This can vary from silver to yellowish-grey, depending on the individual.

Tail

The tail is marked with alternating light and dark rings, and does not narrow significantly along its length.

TAILS

Genets will investigate tree holes in search of possible prey, using their long tails to help them maintain their balance.

Gallery of Genet