Genet is a catlike omnivorous mammals of the genus Genetta, family Viverridae.
There are 14 to 17 species of genets.
All species are native to Africa. The common genet was introduced to southwestern Europe during historical times.
They are found in a variety of habitats with dense vegetation, including woodlands, savannas and forests.
The average lifespan of a genet is about 8 years in the wild and about 13 in captivity. A male genet lived for 22.7 years in captivity.
Genets are from 40 to 60 centimeters (16 to 24 inches) long, excluding the 40 to 55 centimeters (16 to 22 inches) tail. They weigh from 1 to 3 kilograms (2.2 to 6.6 pounds).
Coloration varies among species but usually is pale yellowish or grayish, marked with dark spots and stripes; the tail is banded black and gray or white.
Genets have large eyes with elliptical pupils. They have triangular ears of medium size which can move about 80° from pointing forward to the side, and also from an erect position to pointing downwards. Their wet nose is important for both sensing smell and touch.
Genets are highly agile, have quick reflexes and exceptional climbing skills.
They walk, trot, run, climb up and down trees, and jump.
They live on the ground, but also spend much of their time in trees.
Genets are the only viverrids able to stand on their hind legs.
They are ferocious hunters, eating rodents, birds, bats, eggs, fish, frogs, lizards and insects, such as centipedes and scorpions.
They are usually solitary, except during mating and when females have offspring.
After a gestation period of 10 to 11 weeks, up to four young are born. Newborn common genets weigh 60 to 85 g (2.1 to 3.0 oz). They start eating meat at around seven weeks of age, and are fully weaned at four months of age. When five months old, they are skilled in hunting on their own.
The etymological origin of the word ‘genet’ is uncertain; it might originate from the Greek prefix gen meaning bear and the New Latin suffix etta meaning “small”. Or it may be a derivation of the Arab name Djarnet, or from Old French ‘genete’, from Spanish ‘gineta’.
In 2014, a camera trap in the Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park captured a large spotted genet riding on the back of two different buffalo and a rhinoceros. This was the first time a genet was recorded hitch-hiking.
Pet genets are mostly common genets, rusty-spotted genets or Cape genets.
Loss of habitat due to deforestation and conversion of land to agriculture is a major threat for the crested servaline genet and Johnston’s genet. They are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red Lists.
The aquatic genet is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.