The common or European genet is native to northern Africa and has also spread to Europe.
Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native ); ethiopian (Native )
For Europe, Delibes (1999) lists this species as occurring in all of continental Portugal and Spain, and most of France (mainly south of Loire River and west of the Rhone River). It is also found on the Mediterranean islands of Majora, Ibiza, and Cabrera (Balearic Islands) (Delibes 1999). There are also scattered records from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and north-west Italy (Delibes 1999). This species is generally considered to have been introduced to Europe and the Balearic islands (Delibes 1999). It has been recorded to 2,600 m in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco (Cuzin 2003) and at least 3,000 m asl in the Ethiopian Highlands (Admasu et al. 2004)
Distribution in Egypt
Localized (south-west and south-east Eastern Desert).
Genets are long, lean carnivores with a tail usually at least as long as the body. They appear catlike, except for their longer faces. They usually have a dark spotted or marbling pattern over a cream to buff colored background. Their fur is incredibly soft. They have semi-retractable claws. They are extremely flexible and can enter very small spaces.
Range mass: 1 to 3 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Common genets prefer drier areas than other members of the genus. They prefer forests, as they are excellent and agile climbers.
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest
Habitat and Ecology
Genets are carnivorous and eat most small animals that they can catch, such as rats, mice, insects, small reptiles, and birds.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 21.6 years.
Status: captivity: 14.0 years.
Status: captivity: 13.0 years.
Status: captivity: 34.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Genet females come into heat during the wet season(s). Copulation, which follows a foreplay lasting up to an hour, takes only five minutes, during which both the male and the female utter "meows." Gestation is usually 10-11 weeks long, and the female usually gives birth to one to three kittens. Young are born blind and helpless. They are weaned around eight weeks, though they take small amounts of solid food before that. Kits are sexually mature at two years.
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average birth mass: 77.75 g.
Average gestation period: 78 days.
Average number of offspring: 2.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 1479 days.
The common genet is still plentiful throughout its range and seems to have little to fear in the future.
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Status in Egypt
Native, resident ?
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Genets occasionally consume game birds and poultry, but hardly do enough damage to be considered a threat to either.
Genets help keep vermin populations down, and since they often live on the edges of a human community, this helps alleviate pest problems with crops.
The common genet (Genetta genetta), also known as the small-spotted genet or European genet, is a mammal from the order Carnivora, related to civets and linsangs. The most far-ranging of all the fourteen species of genet, it can be found throughout Africa, parts of the Middle East, and in Europe in Spain, Portugal, the Balearic Islands, and parts of France. Small populations exist that may have escaped from captivity in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.
Common genets have a slender, cat-like body, 43 to 55 cm (17 to 22 in) in length, and a tail measuring 33 to 52 cm (13 to 20 in). Males, with an average weight of 2 kilograms (4.4 lb), are about 10% larger than females. The legs are short, with cat-like feet and semi-retractile claws. They have a small head with a pointed muzzle, large oval ears, large eyes, and well-developed whiskers up to 7 cm (2.8 in) in length.
The fur is dense and soft, and the coat is pale grey, with numerous black markings. The back and flanks are marked with about five rows of black spots, and a long black stripe runs along the middle of the back from the shoulders to the rump. There is also a black stripe on the forehead, and dark patches beneath the eyes, which are offset against the white fur of the chin and throat. The tail is striped, with anything from eight to thirteen rings along its length.
Distribution and habitat
Common genets inhabit a range of different habitats, but are commonly found where there is plentiful shelter such as rocky terrain with caves, dense scrub land, and pine, oak, or ash forests. They are rare in more open areas, such as marshes or agricultural land. In Europe, they are found in southern France, Iberia, and the Balearic Islands. In Africa, they are found along the western Mediterranean coast, and in a broad band from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Somalia and Tanzania in the east. A second, discontinuous, population is found in southern Africa, as far north as southern Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
Behaviour and diet
Common genets are secretive and nocturnal. They rest during the day in hollow trees or among thickets, and frequently re-use the same resting sites. They are solitary animals, with each individual occupying a home range of about 8 km2 (3.1 sq mi). The ranges of males and females overlap, but those of members of the same sex do not.
Females mark their territory using scent glands on their flanks, hind legs, and perineum. Males mark less frequently than females, often spraying urine, rather than using their scent glands, and do so primarily during the breeding season. Scent marks by both sexes allow individuals to identify the reproductive and social status of other genets. Common genets also defecate at specific latrine sites, which are often located at the edge of their territories, and perform a similar function to other scent marks.
Common genets have a varied diet, that consists of small mammals, lizards, birds, amphibians, insects and even fruit. The wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) is a favourite prey item, but genets from the Balearics live chiefly on lizards. As genets are expert climbers, they also prey on red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) and dormice (Eliomys quercinus). Genets locate their prey primarily by scent, and kill with a bite to the neck, like cats.
Common genets have five distinct calls. The "hiccup" call is used to indicate friendly interactions, such as between a mother and her young, or between males and females prior to mating. Conversely, clicks, or, in younger individuals, growls, are used to indicate aggression. The remaining two calls, a "mew" and a purr, are used only by young still dependant on their mother.
Breeding occurs between January and September, but is most common in February and March. Mating lasts about two to three minutes, typically being repeated several times over the course of the night. Gestation lasts ten to eleven weeks, and results in the birth of a litter of up to four young. Before birth, the mother creates a den in a hollow tree or rock crevice, where the young will remain for about the first 45 days of their life. Newborn common genets weigh 60 to 85 g (2.1 to 3.0 oz). They start eating meat at around seven weeks, but are not fully weaned for up to four months. They reach sexual maturity at two years of age, and have lived up to 13 years in captivity.
Interactions with humans
This species is sometimes kept as an exotic pet in the U.S.A. and Asia.
Common genets are often kept around because they aid in keeping vermin populations in check, especially in areas where crops can be negatively affected by pests. Common genets sometimes eat poultry and game birds; however, most humans do not consider genets to be a threat. Common genets are also currently at no risk of becoming endangered, and are listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.
- Genetta genetta afra (North Africa)
- Genetta genetta balearica (Majorca, Balearic Islands)
- Genetta genetta felina (East Africa)
- Genetta genetta genetta (mainland Spain and Portugal)
- Genetta genetta granti (Southwest Arabia)
- Genetta genetta hintoni (Zimbabwe)
- Genetta genetta isabelae (Ibiza, Balearic Islands)
- Genetta genetta pulchra (southern Africa)
- Genetta genetta rhodanica (southern France)
- Genetta genetta terraesanctae (Israel and Jordan)
- Genetta genetta senegalensis (Spain and Sudan)
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- Larivière, S. & Calzada, J. (2001). "Genetta genetta". Mammalian Species: Number 680: pp. 1–6. doi:10.1644/1545-1410(2001)680<0001:GG>2.0.CO;2.
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