The genet is a nocturnal hunter. It's razor-sharp,
retractable claws enable it to snare its prey. It is also a good climber and often
climbs trees to catch birds. The genet belongs to the same family as the mongoose
but shares many characteristics with the domestic cat. Varying slightly in color,
genets have spotted, blotched, or striped markings and a graceful, catlike build.
The long, bushy tail accounts for nearly half the animal's length.
The genet has adapted to a variety of habitats within its
range. It can live in semi-desert, forest, scrubland, grassland, and savannah. During the day
the genet sleeps in hollow trees or crevices. Its spotted fur provides good camouflage, so
that it blends in wit the surroundings. Active by night, the genet seems to return to the
same lair near dawn everyday.
The male and female genet come together only to mate. Although
most pairs mate when seasonal rains occur, those living in temperate ranges mate year-round.
More prey is available after the rains, which means that food is plentiful for the newborn.
In southern parts of the genet's range, the
female may bear two litters a year. The female makes a nest in a hollow tree or
among rocks, and the young are born there. They are blind at birth but open their
eyes after 5 to 12 days. Their mother provides solid food for them at two months
of age. The female is fiercely protective of her young . At nine months the young
can hunt for themselves, but they are not fully grown until they are two years
old. They become sexually mature at four years of age.
The genet is primarily a carnivore (meat eater). It eats most small animals, including
rodents, birds, and insects. It hunts at night, with nocturnal moths and beetles being
common prey. The genet emerges from its lair at dusk to hunt. It moves stealthily, keeping,
low to the ground, with its tail stuck straight out behind. The genet stalks its prey in much
the same way that a domestic cat does. It first crouches, with its belly
flattened on the
ground. As the animal pounces on its prey, the hairs on its bushy tail stand erect, and the
genet begins to purr loudly. A skillful climber, the genet often scales trees to catch
roosting birds. In summer, when fruit is abundant, the genet adds pears and figs to its regular
diet. It returns to familiar hunting grounds at about the same time each year.
Length: Head and body, 16-24 in. Tail, 15-21 in.
Weight: 2-6 lb.
Sexual Maturity: 4 years.
Mating Season: Year-round. Sometimes 2 litters
produced in a single year
Gestation: 10-11 weeks
No. of young: 1-4, usually 2-3
Habit: Generally solitary, occasionally seen
Diet: Small rodents, birds insects and some
Lifespan: 5-15 Years
Related Species: There are 10 species of genet
grouped in 3 genera. Civets and mongooses belong to the same family. The common genet is the only species found outside Africa
DID YOU KNOW?
- One rare breed of African genet has rarely been seen in the wild. Almost all that is known about it is based on examination of skin collected by pygmy hunters.
- The genet like the weasel, was once domesticated in Europe to control plagues of rodents.
- The slender and loosely jointed body of a genet enables it to squeeze through any opening its head fits through.
- Studies of the genet in captivity show that it uses a combination of touch, smell, hearing, memory, and eyesight to find its way at night.
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