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All About the Genet

Updated on May 18, 2012

The Various Species of the Genet

Though only distantly related to cats, the Genet is a beautiful cat-like creature that is as playful as a kitten! On this page you'll find information on a Genet's habitat, coloration, diet, behavior, and what they are like as pets!

The Genet is a member of the Carnivora Order and is closely related to Civets and Lingsangs. The Genet (the "G" takes the "J" sound like Jenet) is very cat-like with many feline qualities, but is only distantly related to the cat. Most Genets are spotted with ringed tails. They have musk glands like the civet, which is used to mark territory. The Genet has a pointed snout with long whiskers, short legs, large erect ears and long body. The coat of the Genet can be a variety of browns or grey with darker spots, or a solid black, which is called melanistic.

The Common Genet is also called the Small Spotted Genet, because of the small spots compared to the Large Spotted Genet. This Genet has expanded it's range to include Europe, hence the European Genet name. The Genet was first introduced to Europe as pets to keep the rodent population down.

The Common Genet inhabits the largest range of all the species of Genet. The Common Genet is the most popular of the species.

Besides having smaller spots, another difference between the Common (Small Spotted) and Large Spotted Genet is that the Common Genet has a white tipped tail, while the Large Spotted Genet has a black tipped tail.

The Large Spotted Genet is also sometimes called the Rusty Spotted Genet because of it's characteristic rust colored base coat. The Large Spotted Genet has large dark spots, and are not known to be sometimes melanistic (solid black) like the Common Genet. The Large Spotted Genet is found mostly in Africa, except where kept as pets.

The habitat of the Large Spotted Genet has an effect on the coat of the animal. Namely, the moister the area, the darker and more contrasting the color; while the drier the area, the lighter and less contrasting the color. This aids in camouflage, allowing the Genet to more adequately blend in with it's natural surroundings.

There is an ongoing debate concerning the Rusty Spotted Genet. Some believe they are a different species from the Large Spotted Genet, and should be classified as such.

The Genet will eat whatever it can find in the wild. They normally eat rodents, birds, bats, eggs, insects, even scorpions! They also have a taste for fruit. Because of human settlements moving into the Genet territory, the Genet has been known to prey on the hens and turkeys raised by these humans.

The Genet has a habit of just eating part of their prey, leaving the rest behind.

Cute Genet Clip by National Geographic

The Genet are nocturnal, but can be seen the daytime hours during the rainy season. They climb the trees for birds and eggs, but also hunt on the ground. The Genet can fit through anything they can get their head through, which is bad news for the burrowing rodents and other prey. The Genet are usually solitary, and do not gather with others of their species except for mating.

The Genet are easily startled and are cautious by nature. It is nearly impossible to restrain a Genet. the Genet is also a very clean animal and will groom themselves like a cat. They also make cat-like noises such as purrs, hisses, and meows, among other noises. The Genet has retractable claws, but rarely sees them for defense. Instead, they are used for tree climbing and to hold down prey.

A Pet Genet

Sometimes, the Genet is kept as a household pet. This should only be done if you have the permission to do so, because they are still considered wild or exotic animals. If considering the Genet, make sure you have the space for one. As a cat-like creature, the Genet needs a lot of room to roam. The need a structure to climb, preferably an actual enclosed tree. Their pen must include a completely covered top to prevent escape, and must be very large. Do not put this poor wild creature in a small kennel-like enclosure. They need a LOT of space! You must also make sure you have access to a Veterinarian who is experienced with exotic pets, and can address their specific issues. Do not get a Genet for bragging rights only, you must truly love the animal, and want to do what is best for this beautiful creature.

A pet Genet can eat catfood, and it is good to occasionally include poultry and fruit, as that is what they would occasionally consume in the wild. When your Genet spends time in his LARGE enclosure outside, it will be able to look for insects.

A Genet is very independent and can be easily startled. They do not usually bond with a group, but only a few people. They are extremely agile, and will escape if given the chance! A Genet will can also withdraw from someone they formerly bonded with, if left alone for days at a time. The Genet also has sharp claws, and may scratch you out of defense, or even accidentally, however, it is inhumane to de-claw the Genet unless you are 100% positive they will not escape your protection, or come in contact with a vicious animal, (like the unrestrained neighborhood dog).

Want to know what it's like to own an exotic pet? Check out this Yahoo Group.

What do you think of the Genet?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This research actually helped me on a school project!! NICE WORK

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      my favorite cat EVER.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      GENAT ARE A RARE AND CUTE TYPE OF CAT

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Beautiful creature. I loved the video.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Had 6 of my grown indigenous chicken killed overnight or early morning. Genet gained entry into shed. Didn't eat any.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wow. A lot about Genets,But you forgot one thing,Where the first Genet was found,Or the history of Genets. But overall a Great source of information.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Friends, huge apologies for not answering earlier - all my notifications from this website went into a spam box. Grr. Anyway, Janet the Genet was released into the wild in October 2010, It took two months of living with her in her new home - a 20,000 acre conservancy near Naivasha, Kenya. After the release I spent a week with her as she explored further and further every day. Then for a few months I went up to see her every weekend. She would come reluctantly when I called her and spent the afternoon with me. However, when it started to get dark, she would take off and not come back until the next afternoon. I spaced out my visits and she came back less and less. Finally, when I was gone for a month, she did not return. She has been spotted about 5 kms from the lodge we released her from, as recently as last month. She is truly wild now and I believe all my effort was well worth it - even though I miss her terribly.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I am doing an animal report on the genet all my past animal reports were boring. But this animal is very interesting. I would like to meet one in the future

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      os meus pais ja criram um casal de genetes, encontraram no alentejo eram ainda bebes. ao fim de uns anos eles fugiram. pois eles sao animais independentes. onde moro encontra-se alguns genetes, ainda hoje encontrei um morto na estrada, como quaquer outro animal.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is new to me. I want to see one.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm not too happy with "Genet's" right now, seeing how this morning I was bit by one this morning at the zoo I volunteer at.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      This creature is amazing i think i would like to have one of my own.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

      I don't think I've seen the Genet before. It certainly is a fascinating creature. What a beautiful long tail.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 6 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Really interesting article about a little known animal - blessed.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      i had an awesome experience last night - i was sitting outside 10.30ish in the noordhoek area and just finished a meditation when i felt something on the side of my leg - when i opened my eyes there was a genet on its hindlegs and its front legs on my leg/lap - i was wrapped up in blanket so didn't move - and silently it moved down and slithered off - amazing ! - never seen one before

    • Harshitha LM profile image

      Harshitha LM 6 years ago

      Very interesting. I have never seen a genet.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Fascinating animal!! i fell in love with it the first time i saw one!!!!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: My "genet" turned out to be a dassie with 2 babies! Unfortunately they all died last week - we think as a result of a disease quite common to the species.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Fanima would like to know more about how the release ended, if it wa successful? I have one spotted genet rescued although he is few weeks old and still drink milk, planning to release him into the wild as ssoon as he will be able to take care of himself

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have a wild genet living in my roof which is a problem as his "toilet" is dripping through the ceiling into the house. Any ideas how we can persuade him to relocate? We have tried unsuccessfully by sprinkling mothballs in the ceiling, setting a baited trap, cutting back all the overhanging tree branches - all to no avail. We are getting a little desperate so any advice would be much appreciated.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I live in Durban, South Africa, and a genet has taken up residence in the roof of my house for the last three weeks. It starts moving around at dusk before making it's way out for the night and usually comes back at dawn when I hear it again. Although I live in a city, there are a few houses next to each other that have large, wild gardens and these beautiful little creatures love to sit in the branches and watch my husband garden in the late afternoon. It's wonderful to have some wildlife around, so little of it seen in our cities anymore. Unfortunately my dogs go mad and are desperate to catch them. Not sure what we are going to do about it living in the roof as it isn't the ideal place. Also have a band of mongeese living at the bottom of my garden and the vervet monkeys pass by every day!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      i've heard many different accounts from other sources in regards to captivity. it seems many other sources present the genet as a wonderful pet with easy maintenance

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Absolutely amazing, but should be left in the wild. It is a shame to lock them up. They have no scent and are extremely clean. We rescued one when she was four weeks old and are about to release her back into the wild after a year and a half....

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I was wondering if anyone that owns one could tell me if the scent that they have is stronger than a ferrett or about the same

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Love them

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      I love the Genet I am doing an animal project on it!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      really cool

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      i think i really what to get a genet. they are soooo cute

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      i am doing the genet's animal family as a science project. We have to pick a specific animal for one part of it, and because of its 'secretive' nature there has been barely any information. Thank-you so much for all the info you provided. Keep it up!

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      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Back for another viewing! ;) Let me know when you've done that new lens Debra.

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      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      OMG! I love this creature -- it is really quite an attractive little critter.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 8 years ago

      Have seen plenty on my farms back home. I am one of those people who are scared of cats. A lovely well presented lens.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

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      Vladimir 8 years ago from Australia

      Are you sure these things aren't possums with a fancy name? Literary possums? They look remarkably similar to the noisy, messy creatures who taunt me from the trees at night.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Here we go again. Every time I check Debra's list there's some fascinating new topic to learn about. When I saw this, I thought it was about Jean Genet, the immortal French novelist, poet and playwright. Who knew it was an animal? Thanks Debra. 5*

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      In 1984 in Cape Town area, next to Tokai forest, we moved to a piece of land we inherited, which had been lying vacant for years.

      The genets - a whole clan of them, moved there too. The description here is not true for the genets we saw and lived with for a few years before they moved on. They lived in a community, had tails as long as the body, about a meter each, but most of all had the most beautiful dark gold fur, leopard color gold, not like the photos here. They stole lamb chops fearlessly in front of us in the kitchen, and cheddar cheese but left the boerewors, and they ate all the frogs in the storm ditches. More fabulous fur, I never saw before or since.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      I am doing a geography picture where we have to draw a picture of an african animal. I didn't want to do something original, so I picked the genet! They are so beautiful!!!

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      The Homeopath 8 years ago

      The wonders of mammals never cease to amaze me. Genets are beautiful, but I think I'd be a bit apprehensive to go for a nighttime stroll and find one staring down at me from a tree.