Genets (Genetta genetta)

Genets are closely related to civets, but often referred to mistakenly as cats because of various superficial similarities in appearance. They are slender cat-like animals with a long body, a long ringed tail, large ears, a pointed muzzle and partly retractile claws. Their fur is spotted, but melanistic genets have also been recorded. They have musk glands and anal sacs.

All genet species have a dark stripe along the spine; they differ in fur color and spot pattern. Their size varies between species from 40.9 to 60 cm (16.1 to 23.6 in) in head-to-body length with 40 to 47 cm (16 to 19 in) long tails; their tails are almost as long as head and body. They have large eyes with elliptical pupils; the iris is about the color of the fur. They can move their eyes within their sockets to a limited extent, and move their heads to focus on moving objects. Their ear pinnae have a fine layer of hair inside and outside. They can move the pinnae by 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

Secretive except when habituated, and subject to some taxonomic debate, genets are attracted to human waste and are occasionally seen slinking around campsites and lodges after dark.

The Servaline Genet (Genetta tigrina), large-spotted genet (Genetta tigrina) and small-spotted genet (Genetta genetta) are all widespread in Uganda, with the latter two generally occurring in more lightly wooded areas than the former, and sometimes observed on night drives in the Semliki Wildlife Reserve. A west African species, the giant forest genet (Genetta victiriae), has been recorded in Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

genets genetta uganda

The Common Genet tends to prefer all types of wooded habitats (deciduous and evergreen), where it is often associated with rivers and brooks, but it is a generalist and can be found in other habitats where there is suitable prey. It avoids open habitats, but may occur even in small fragments of woodland in farmland or near villages, and usually is absent from rainforests, dense woodlands and woodland-moist savanna mosaics.

The Genets feed mainly on small mammals, but will also take birds, other small vertebrates, insects, and fruits. Is not uncommonly found in proximity human buildings, people and their domestic animals, which could have implications for disease transmission.