It looks like a cat, it’s carnivorous like a cat, but it is definitely not a cat. They primarily eat small rodents and lizards, though to add a little variety to their diet, genets sometimes have fruit salads topped with insects. Some subspecies of genets eat exclusively insects. In fact, they are known to stalk frogs at the sides of ponds in order to get a little bit of French cuisine, too.
Although genets are adapted to living in trees, they spend a good amount of time on the ground foraging and hunting. Their beautiful spots and stripes help them camouflage even an extra bit during the darkness of night, when they are best at hunting. And, yes, they work the graveyard shift: beginning the hunt just at or before sunset until dawn.
These beautiful creatures breed throughout the year, though they do have seasonal peaks in April and September. Once they “get mated”, usually 2-4 young are born into a soft leafy-lined nest, burrow, or tree hollow. Genet pups are blind at birth, and their eyes begin to open up at around 8 days. By 6 months they are weaned off their mother, by 1 year, they are completely independent, and by 2 years, they are sexually mature.
Genets are solitary creatures, but certainly there must be a way that they can communicate with each other even if they don’t have access to the Gabby Wild blog to hear updates about their species! So instead they use scents such as their feces, urine, and perineal gland- a sexual gland that is situated near the anus- to mark territories. (Why so many scents come from the bottom- I don’t know. At least it’s not from the top.) These various scents allow for other genets who get to excitedly whiff them know the sex, identity, familiarity, and breeding status of the scent-maker. In fact, when males mark their territory with their musk gland, they must do a handstand!
So where can you find genets? They are often found in Southwestern Europe, the Balearic Islands, and parts of Africa and the Middle East. In fact, genets were Europe’s rat catchers until they were ousted by the modern domestic cat during the Middle Ages. Contrary to Europeans, Africans regard them as pests due to how they sneakily attack farmers’ poultry.
Last kooky fact about our civet-relative: they are capable of standing bipedally (usually when munching on a treat)- like a human.
Stay Wacky and Wild,