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Small-spotted genet (Genetta genetta)

24 January 2017



Physical description

Small-spotted genet size versus a humanShort legs, an elongated body with a long tail that has about eight white rings. Body is covered with small spots which are usually black, but the spots can also have a rust-coloured fringe or even be totally rust-coloured. The back-ground colour varies from pure white in die more arid, western regions to buff or off-white in the eastern wetter regions, but no two specimens are exactly alike. Two black bands stretch from near the inner edges of the ears over the front of the shoulders, with two more black bands from the back of the neck to the flanks. Most obvious differences from the large-spotted genet is, small-spotted genet has dorsal crest and a jet black band from behind the shoulders to the base of the tail. White patches under the eyes and the tail has a broad white tip. Underparts are white to off-white, and there is a dense, greyish underfur.

Small-spotted genet printMuzzle is pointed and the erect ears are rounded. Genders look alike but the males are slightly larger than the females, reaching a mean total length of 949 mm as opposed to 925 mm in the females. Both genders have a mean weight of 1.9 kg. Front legs are usually darker than the hind ones. Five toes of which one is set back from the rest, with sharp claws that can be extended on each forefoot. Pair of large scent glands behind the sex organs and anal glands that secrete a musky substance that is used in scent-marking.



www.leopard.tvArea and habitat

Occurs in three geographically isolated populations in southern and northern Africa and in a wide belt across the Sahel south of the Sahara desert. Was introduced to south-western Europe where it now occurs in Spain, Portugal, France, and parts of Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland Belgium and the Balearic islands of Spain. It also occurs in the southern Arabian Peninsula and Israel.

Habitat consists of open, arid woodlands, dry grasslands or wetlands in regions where the large-spotted genet Genetta tigrina does not occur. Cover in the form of scrub or underbrush is essential, as are rocky outcrops or holes in the ground or in trees in which to shelter.




Almost entirely solitary, although pairs may sometimes be seen. Strictly nocturnal as it only becomes active after dark and enters cover before sunrise. Although it can climb well, it spends most of it´s time on the ground, uses disused burrows of the springhare and aardvark for shelter. Burrows are not altered in any way as the claws are not adapted to dig. Roads, tracks and dry stream beds used when travelling on the ground at a fast trot.



When stalking prey, movements are slow and deliberate before the prey is killed in a final rush and pounce. Diet consists predominantly of insects, mice, spiders, scorpions, birds and reptiles such as small lizards, but frogs and centipedes are eaten at times too. Carrion also eaten, can learn to raid poultry on farms, wild fruits may be eaten occasionally.

Adult weight: 1.9 kg
Adult female size: 925 mm
Adult male size: 949 mm


Young born during warmer, summer months. Gestation period of 10 to 11 weeks. The litters born in disused springhare and aardvark burrows, holes in termite mounds, hollow trees, among piles of boulders and in other suitable cavities. Litter size vary from 2 to 4 young. At birth a young weighs some 70 g, weaning occurs at 9 weeks when young genets become fully active. A female has 4 inguinal mammae.


No major threats are known. In North Africa and some localities in southern Africa, hunted for their fur. In Portugal, killed in predator traps. On Ibiza cause loss of habitat.

Read the full article written by Prof J du P Bothma.



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