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Common Genet Genetta genetta
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Viverridae
Genus: Genetta

See text.

Genets (pronounced /ˈdʒɛnɪts or dʒəˈnɛts/) are Old World carnivores of the family Viverridae, related to civets and linsangs. All species are contained within the genus Genetta, although the Aquatic Genet, is sometimes housed in its own genus Osbornictis.



Genets are superficially cat-like creatures, despite being unrelated to cats. Most of them have spotted coats and long, banded tails, small heads, and large ears. Like civets, genets have strong musk glands, which are used to mark territory, and they are known to perform handstands when doing this. Genets are highly agile creatures, with incredible reflexes and exceptional climbing skills, and are the only Viverrids that stand bipedally.

Genets possess extremely long tails--typically over 1 to 1.5 times the length of their bodies--providing a highly effective counter-weight that enables them to easily maintain balance as they leap from tree limb to tree limb.

All live exclusively in Africa except for the widespread Common Genet Genetta genetta, which can be found in Northwest Africa and throughout Europe, parts of the Middle East, and the Balearic Islands. The Ibizan subspecies, G. g. isabelae is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Domestic genets

Several species including the Common Genet and the Large Spotted Genet are increasingly kept as pets worldwide. Their curious and playful nature is akin to that of a kitten, or a domestic ferret. They can eat standard commercial cat food or ferret food, and they can be trained to use a litterbox like a cat.


Genets are inquisitive but cautious animals and are easily startled. They can be held and petted, but for the most part do not like to be restrained. A genet can squeeze its body through any opening large enough for its head to pass through.

Genets have semi-retractable claws, which they use for climbing and holding prey, but not for fighting. They are very clean pets, generally consistent in their use of litter boxes/pans. When frightened, genets can release a very strong musky odor from their scent glands, used primarily for marking territory.

Genets can be socialized to exist peacefully with other pets, such as cats and dogs, but they will attack small animal pets like birds and hamsters. They can live up to 20 years in captivity.



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