Common genet

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Common genet[1]
Genetta genetta felina (Wroclaw zoo).JPG
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Viverridae
Subfamily: Viverrinae
Genus: Genetta
Species: G. genetta
Binomial name
Genetta genetta
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Genet area.png
Common genet range
(green - native,
red - extant introduced,
black - extinct introduced)

The common genet (Genetta genetta), also known as the small-spotted genet or European genet, is a mammal from the order Carnivora, related to civets and linsangs. The most far-ranging of all the fourteen species of genet, it can be found throughout Africa, parts of the Middle East, and in Europe in Spain, Portugal, the Balearic Islands, and parts of France. Small populations exist that may have escaped from captivity in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.[2]


A secretive, nocturnal species, the common genet inhabits rocky terrain with caves, dense scrub land, pine forests, and marshland. This handsome, feline-looking animal, has a pale grey and black spotted coat, with 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 (Apodemus sylvaticus) is a favourite prey, but genets from the Balearics live chiefly on lizards. As genets are expert climbers, they also prey on red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) and dormice (Eliomys quercinus). Genets kill with a bite to the neck, like cats.

Interactions with humans[edit]

This species is sometimes kept as an exotic pet in the U.S.A. and Asia.

Common genets are often kept around because they aid in keeping vermin populations in check, especially in areas where crops can be negatively affected by pests.[3] Common genets sometimes eat poultry and game birds; however, most humans do not consider genets to be a threat.[3] Common genets are also currently in no danger of becoming endangered, as they are listed under least concern on the Red List.


Along with other viverrids, genets are, among living Carnivorans, considered to be the morphologically closest to the extinct common ancestor of the whole order.[4][5]


As many as 30 subspecies of the common genet have been named, and many are under debate as to their validity. They include:

  • Genetta genetta afra (North Africa)
  • Genetta genetta balearica (Majorca, Balearic Islands)
  • Genetta genetta felina
  • Genetta genetta genetta
  • Genetta genetta granti (Southwest Arabia)
  • Genetta genetta hintoni
  • Genetta genetta isabelae (Spain, Ibiza)
  • Genetta genetta pulchra
  • Genetta genetta pyrenaica (Pyrenees, France)
  • Genetta genetta rhodanica
  • Genetta genetta terraesanctae (Israel)
  • Genetta genetta senegalensis (Spain, Sudan[6])


  1. ^ Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). "Genetta genetta". Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b Herrero, J. & Cavallini, P. (2008). Genetta genetta. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 June 2010. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
  3. ^ a b Lundrigan, B. and M. Conley. 2000. "Genetta genetta" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed 3 December 2011
  4. ^ Estes, R. 1991. The behavior guide to African mammals. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  5. ^ Ewer, R. 1973. The carnivores. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  6. ^ Dereure J. et al. (2003). "Visceral leishmaniasis in eastern Sudan: parasite identification in humans and dogs; host-parasite relationships". Microbes and Infection 5 (12): 1103–8. doi:10.1016/j.micinf.2003.07.003. PMID 14554251. 


  • Morrison, Paul (1994). Mammals, Reptiles & Amphibians of Britain and Europe. MacMillan. pp. 132–133 ISBN 0-333-62998-1.

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