Large Spotted Genet

Genetta maculata

The Large Spotted Genet is a great example of dynamite in a small package. These lithe omnivores weigh only around 1 – 3kg, are around a meter long (including the tail) and stand just 15cm high at the shoulder, but they’re skilled predators of anything up to the size of hares, small crocodiles and guineafowl and include such varied fair as invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, fish, crabs, rodents carrion and fruit in their diet. Large Spotted Genets inhabit mesic savannas, riverine woodlands and forests.

Large Spotted Genets are nocturnal and very rarely seen in the daylight, usually only becoming active well after nightfall. By day they hide in thickets, holes in trees, crevices among boulders, tunnels dug by other animals and even in the roofs of buildings. Though they are excellent climbers and can jump distances of up to 4m between trees, they do most of their hunting on the ground. They are mostly solitary, any groupings encountered being either a mating pair or mother with young.

Females give birth to between 1 and 5 pups in spring and summer after a two month gestation period. The young are weaned at 2 months after birth, but will remain with their mother until they are around 6 months old. They are fully grown by about 11 months and have a life expectancy of between 8 and 14 years in the wild. Large Spotted Genets fall prey to a wide range of predators, including large owls, pythons, leopards, caracal and jackals.

The IUCN lists the Large Spotted Genet as being of least concern. It occurs from Kwazulu-Natal, through Mpumalanga and the eastern half of the Limpopo Province, through much of our neighbouring states to the north and throughout central and eastern Africa as far as Burkina Faso in the west and Eritrea in the northeast.

The Cape Genet, or South African Large Spotted Genet (Genetta tigrina), which occurs from the Western Cape along the coast and adjacent interior as far north as Durban in Kwazulu-Natal, is difficult to distinguish from the Common Large Spotted Genet (G. maculata) and is considered the same species by some authorities.

 

33 thoughts on “Large Spotted Genet

  1. Nature on the Edge

    Lovely informative post in these elusive creatures. The Viverridae tend not to be in the limelight as the cat family, but as you remark like β€˜dynamite’ in a small package. I was curious to find out more on the Binturongs when recently visiting SE Asia – had information boards and pics up of them in the botanical garden in Singapore, but I think well gone – all eaten. And civets were implicated in the SARS epidemic in 2003.
    Fortunate to have visits from the Western Cape large spotted genets. They become quite bold and will jump up through windows to prowl in kitchens. Love their long-bodied elegance and that banded tail. So agile and nimble!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Wow, Liz. what an interesting house guest a genet makes! I’ve never seen a Cape Genet for myself – are they easily distinguishable from the Large-spotted variety, or do they look very similar?

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          We’re hoping to visit the Garden Route and a few other National Parks in the Western and Eastern Cape again in December; and hopefully we’ll have the chance to see one of them too then!

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            1. de Wets Wild Post author

              Unfortunately this time it looks as if we are going to miss out on Cape Town, about which I am really sad – closest we’ll probably get is Agulhas and Bontebok.

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          1. naturebackin

            Oh that is interesting that they live around Pretoria. Here they live on the margins of the plantations – most gardens can be risky for them because of dogs. I heard of someone in the neighbourhood who kept free-range guineapigs and rabbits that she had rescued. Their shelter was in the form of upside-down car-tire dog beds. One morning she went out and turned over the guineapigs shelter only to uncover a very sleepy and very full genet inside sleeping off its meal! Fortunately she was very understanding of the genet’s point of view!

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  2. Anne

    I always feel privileged to see a genet. We once had one close to where we were camping at Tsitsikamma – when one could still camp under the trees (chalets now take up that space) – which we saw several nights running; quite splendid.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Ek dink soos met meeste wilde diere moet mens hul liefs los om hul gang te gaan – as jy hulle in n hoek dwing gaan hulle hulself verdedig en mense is maar pieperig… πŸ˜‰

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