Top 8 Genet Species You Need To Know

A member of the genus Genetta, the Genet is a slender cat-like animal with a long body. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, there are approximately 14 species of Genets. All genet species are indigenous to Africa and have a dark stripe along the spine. However, they differ in fur color and spot pattern and their size varies between species. Below is a list of the top eight species of Genet found in Africa.

1. Common Genet

The Common Genet

Like all genet species, the Common Genet is a small viverrid with a slender, cat-like body. It measures 17 to 22 inches in body length and weighs an average of 2 kg. It has a pale grey coat, with numerous black markings. Male common genets are about 10% larger than their female counterparts. As a result, males have been found to be more active and agile than females at night. The common genet is a solitary animal, with adults being nocturnal and crepuscular.

They can be found in Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Egypt. The only genet species present in Europe is the Common Genet. It was introduced to southwestern Europe as a semi-domestic animal about 1,000 to 1,500 years ago. The Common Genet is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, meaning the species is still plentiful in the wild.

2. Cape Genet

The Cape Genet

Scientifically known as "Genetta tigrina," the Cape Genet is a species of genet endemic to South Africa. As they face no major threats, Cape genets are classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. But as they sometimes kill chickens and other domestic birds, they are killed in retaliation by farmers. Like other genets, the Cape genet is nocturnal and arboreal, having musk glands and anal sacs. It is ash grey with brown irregular spots and has white spots below the eye.

In February 2022, Cape Town ETC published a story about a genet visiting two Clifton residents on their 4th-floor balcony.

3. Rusty-spotted Genet

The Rusty-spotted Genet

The rusty-spotted genet, otherwise known as the panther genet, is a genet species distributed widely in sub-Saharan Africa. It measures 17 to 20 inches in head-to-body length and weighs from 1.3 to 3 kg. Rusty-spotted genets' feet are of the same color as their fur, which is short whitish grey to pale yellow with dark spots. They are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, as they are considered common.

4. Johnston's Genet

The Johnston's Genet

Native to the Upper Guinean forests, the Johnston's Genet is deemed one of West Africa's least-known carnivores. It is threatened by deforestation and therefore listed on the IUCN Red List as "Near Threatened." Johnston's genets have short rich golden to ochre yellowish colored fur with small reddish spots on the sides.

Their hind legs are dark grey and their tail has eight black and seven pale rings. The first Johnston's genet known to science was trapped in July 2000. The Johnston's genet was recorded for the first time in 2011 in Dindefelo Nature Reserve, southeastern Senegal.

5. Pardine Genet

The Pardine Genet

Known scientifically as "Genetta pardina" the Pardine Genet is a widely distributed and common genet species in West Africa. Also known as the West African large spotted genet, the Pardine's fur is yellowish grey with round black spots. It has grey ears and white spots under each eye. Pardine genets, for the most part, are active at night and very adept at climbing trees.

6. Angolan Genet

The Angolan Genet

Another genet species endemic to Southern Africa is the Angolan Genet, scientifically known as "Genetta angolensis." It can be found in Angola, D.R. Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia. It has long light brown colored fur with dark spots and is distinguished from the common genet by the black rather than white tip to the tail. The Angolan genet's population is not considered threatened and therefore listed as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List.

7. Hausa Genet

The Hausa Genet

Scientifically known as "Genetta thierryi," the Hausa Genet is a genet species with bright-colored fur and short hair. Native to West African savannas, the Hausa Genet can be found in Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Cameroon. The Hausa Genetis is hunted in some areas and sometimes seen on display as bushmeat, although it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. 

8. Servaline Genet

The Servaline Genet

The servaline genet is a widely distributed genet species in Central Africa. It has black feet and a long tail with a bright tip. You can find the servaline genet in Cameroon, Uganda, and Tanzania. Jacques Pucheran, a French zoologist born in Clairac, first described the servaline genet in 1855.

Are Genets related to cats?

Genets resemble cats and share many of their traits. However, they are not related to the cat family as they are to civets and linsangs. The genet belongs to the family Viverridae, which comprises 33 species placed in 14 genera. Cats, on the other hand, belong to the family Felidae, which comprises over 40 species including the domestic cat. So the genet is not in any way related to cats, although it has a cat-like appearance.

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