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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 8:28 EDT

Common Genet

The common genet (Genetta genetta), also known as the small-spotted genet or European Genet, is a carnivore mammal. It is related to civets and linsangs. The most far ranging of all the eleven species of genet, it can be found throughout Africa. It is found in parts of the Middle East, and in Europe in Spain, Portugal, the Balearic Islands, and parts of France. There are also small populations that have escaped from captivity in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

A secretive, nocturnal species, the common genet inhabits rocky terrain with caves, dense scrubland, pine forests and marshland. This handsome, feline-looking animal has a pale grey and black spotted coat. It has a long striped tail. Like all genets, it has a small head, large ears and eyes, and short legs with retractable claws. Males are larger than females, and juveniles are darker grey.

The common genet has a varied diet that consists of small mammals, lizards, birds, amphibians, insects and even fruit. The wood mouse is a favorite prey, but genets from the Balearics live chiefly on lizards. As genets are expert climbers, they also prey on red squirrels and dormice. Genets kill with a bite to the neck, like cats. This species is sometimes kept as an exotic pet in the U.S.A..

Common Genet