SPOTTED GENET (Small) – Genetta genetta

SIZE: Length (including tail) 1 m, mass 2 kg.
COLOUR: Whitish or brownish grey upperparts with a pronounced dark brown spinal stripe, and on either side smallish, dark brown or blackish spots arranged in rows. The tail has about eight dark rings and usually a white tip. The strongly patterned face has a black chin.
GESTATION PERIOD: 10 - 11 weeks.
MOST LIKE: The Large-Spotted Genet. Only the small-spotted genet, however, raises the hair of its dark spinal stripe in a prominent crest when it is frightened. Other distinguishing features include the black (not white) chin, the white (not black) tip to the tail and the coarse, long hair.
HABITAT: Open, arid terrain where there is adequate ground cover. Also well-watered woodland.

The small-spotted genet has habits similar to the large-spotted genet: it is nocturnal, scales trees, uses tree-holes, undergrowth or disused burrows as shelter in the day, and eats insects, mice and rats, geckos, frogs, snakes and scorpions. It stalks its prey like a cat. In defence it will arch its back and the hair down the spine will bristle, while also emitting an unpleasant odour from a secretion in its anal glands. It is a short-legged animal with an elongated body and a white-ringed tail. The spots covering its body are generally slightly smaller than those of the large-spotted genet, but not always: the raising of the dorsal crest is more characteristic in terms of telling these two species apart.

The muzzle is pointed and the ears are rounded. No two animals are exactly alike. Two to four young are born during the summer months, usually in the mother's daytime shelter. Small-spotted genets were tamed by the ancient Egyptians as household pets to kill rodents.


Small-Spotted Genet are found not only in sub-Saharan Africa, but along the north coast of Africa and in Europe.