Small Spotted Genets

Small Spotted Genets

Genets are common nocturnal visitors to campsites and lodges in the African bush, moving silently through even dense vegetation as they hunt for insects, rodents, and other prey attracted by lights and food scraps.

They become quite accustomed to people and some individuals are regular visitors to camps, stealthily walking along balustrades and verandas, sometimes standing motionless, watching intently, as they assess potential threats or prey, before moving off again.

Genets stalking through the bush at night are often noticed when game vehicle headlights and spotlights, although skilled guides never shine a powerful beam directly at an animal lest it damage their eyes, are reflected by the genet’s eyes, making them easily noticeable.

The Small spotted genet is similar in appearance to the Large spotted genet, and they are easily confused by observers, but the former has a white tip to its tail, is grey and white in appearance, and has black spots, whereas the latter has larger rust-coloured spots and a black tip to its tail.

Small spotted genets have retractable claws, although they are not part of the cat family, and are extremely agile climbers but usually spend more time on the ground than in trees.

They are solitary animals and in addition to rodents and insects they also take spiders, birds, bats, reptiles, frogs and even scorpions. They also eat fruit.

During the day genets sleep in holes in termite mounds, hollow logs, and cavities along the banks of dry watercourses, although some utilize suitable refuges in trees.

Male small spotted genets weigh up to about 2.5 kilograms, although females are slightly smaller. They are just under a metre in length, half of which is the animal’s tail.

They are common animals, sometimes living in well vegetated urban areas where they have been recorded eating dry pet-food pellets.

Mike Cadman

Mike has worked as a journalist for a variety of international and local media organisations as well as environmental NGO’s for the past 38 years and is the author of five books. During his career, he has covered all major news developments in southern Africa and has travelled extensively throughout many parts of the continent. He spends as much time as possible in the bush and has extensive knowledge of broader environmental issues as well as the creatures that live there.