Genets are long, slender carnivorous animals. They are found throughout Africa and in some parts of Europe. There are many species of genets, and the two major species among them are the small-spotted and the large-spotted genets.
The small-spotted genets help in controlling the pest population, especially in areas where crops are harmed by pests.
Genets are nocturnal carnivorous animals that resemble cats or ferrets. They can stay in a variety of habitats depending on the species type they belong to. They can be seen in arid to semi-arid regions and also in forested areas. They prefer dense vegetation like woodlands, savannas, and forests.
Like cats, genets are careful hunters. With the help of their sharp and extendible claws, they pin the prey. These claws also make them excellent climbers. Genets can make a variety of sounds like mewing, purring, hissing, and spitting if they feel threatened.
There are many species of genets. The two widely known sub-species among them are the Common genet (small-spotted genet), and the Cape genet (large-spotted genet). The common genet is found in arid regions. The Cape genet lives in dense habitats and in regions where water is available.
It is known to be tolerant of most habitats of genets are kept as pets worldwide due to their playful nature. They can be trained to use a litter box like a cat and can be fed like a cat. The genet is also well-known for the killing of poultry because of which farmers and owners dislike the genet.
Small-spotted genets have a long thin body and tail. Their legs are short and the hind feet are black. Their body color ranges from dirty white to yellowish gray spotted with dark-brown to black markings.
Their coats are harder than that of the large spotted genet. Their chins are dark in color. Their tails are striped and have white tips. A crest of black-tipped hair runs through their spines, which they are able to raise if they feel threatened. Their ears are long, rounded and thin.
Their eyes are large which have clear patches below them. They also have a good vision so they have the ability to see distant objects clearly. They have sharp and extendible claws on their feet. Their body length ranges from 40 to 60 cm and the tail from about 30 to 55 cm. Their body weight is about 2 to 4.2 lbs.
Small-spotted genets are nocturnal animals. They are mostly active at night while hunting for food. They are found in caves, tree holes, burrows and dense vegetation covers, or sleeping on trees during the day. At times, they climb trees for eating birds and eggs. They mainly prefer living in the dry woodland areas, but are also sometimes seen in riverine habitats. They generally live in solitary and are at times seen in groups, especially during mating.
Females small-spotted genets mark their territory with the help of scent glands and males by spraying urine.
Where They are Found?
Common genets can be found throughout Africa, parts of the Middle East and in Europe. It is widespread in most of Southern Africa, but is found marginally in KwazuluNatal.
Small-spotted genets are carnivores. They primarily eat invertebrates and small mammals. They sometimes also eat reptiles, amphibians, birds, lizards, insects, millipedes, centipedes, scorpions and even fruits.
Small-spotted genets reproduce in the period between January and September, but mostly in February and March. Females have a gestation period of about 10 to 11 weeks. A litter of two to four young are born. They are kept in a nest in a hollow tree, rock crevices or dense vegetation.
Large-spotted genets have a long slender body and tail, a black tip tail and short legs. Their body color varies from off white or yellowish gray and marked with rusty-brown spots. The spots are larger in size than that in small-spotted genet.
Cape genets have a light and soft coat with dark spots and a dorsal stripe on the body. Their chin is white and the tail is dark-brown to black in color. Unlike the small-spotted genet, it does not have a crest of longer black hair along the spine.
They have long, rounded and thin ears. They possess large eyes with white patches beneath them. They possess very good vision due to which they are able to see objects at far distances very clearly. They have sharp and curved claws on both the front and back feet. The length of their body ranges from 49 cm to 60 cm tail from 42 cm to 54 cm. Their body weight range from 2.2 to 6.6 lbs.
Cape genets stay hidden during the day in a tree or take high vegetation cover for shelter, protection from heat, and other benefits. They prefer living in habitats with permanent water resources and dense forests like Fynbos biome and forests on Western and Eastern Cape. At times, when food sources are scarce, they may search for food in the grassland.
They are nocturnal animals. They are active during the nighttime. They possess well-developed olfactory system which helps in hunting preys, communicating, and mating.
The Cape genets almost entirely lives in solitary, but can sometimes be found in pairs, particularly when mating. In stressful situations, they are heard hissing. With the help of their musk glands, they mark their territory. They release a musky odor from these glands in case they are stressed.
Where They are Found?
Cape genets are found in regions extending from the Western Cape of South Africa to KwaZulu-Natal. They are widely distributed in KwaZulu-Natal.
Cape genets mainly eat invertebrates and small mammals. They also eat reptiles, amphibians, birds, fruits, frogs, scorpions, fish and spiders.
Various records say that Cape genets mostly reproduce throughout the year. Female has a gestation period of about 10 to 11 weeks i.e. approximately 80 days. A litter of two to four young are born. They are kept in a nest in a hollow tree, caves, burrows or dense vegetation. The Cape genet grows very fast and then starts living its solitary life.
The other known sub-species of genets are Abyssinian genet, Angolan genet, Bourlon's genet, Crested genet, Johnston's genet, Panther genet, Pardine genet, Aquatic genet, King genet, Servaline genet, Thierry's genet or Haussa genet, and Giant genet.