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Common Genet (Genetta genetta)

Diputación de Málaga
Gineta baja ARL

Common Genet (Genetta genetta)

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Phenology
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Animal Life > Mammals

Identification

It is a medium sized carnivore (head-body length 47 to 60 cm), with an elongated body, short legs and a long tail (45 to 65 cm). It has a greyish brown coat with dark spots forming rings in some parts of the body such as the tail. Its head has a pointed snout, slightly elongated ears and black eye rings. Its eyes are very big with vertical pupils. There is no visible differences between males and females.

Where does it live?

It is a forest species usually looking for shelter in rocky areas with abundant vegetation, both scrub land and trees. It is present in holm oaks, pine groves, olive groves, meadows, cork oaks, scrub areas, with a predilection for riverbanks and streams. It also appears in urban areas, associated with orchards, parks and gardens, island forests in urbanizations or urban riverbanks. It avoids open areas, with little forest cover, and is absent in high mountain areas. It prefers medium or low altitude areas with a nice temperature, not too cold. It stands by dry or semi-arid areas always near riverine environments.

How does it live?

It is an animal with nocturnal habits, although it has some activity peaks at dusk and twilight. It consumes fruits and insects, and catches all kinds of micro-mammals and forest birds, including rabbits. Its diet can vary seasonally. They are solitary animals with territories ranging up to 15 km2 in which they can have several burrows, usually in tree holes, but also in old raptors’ nests and plant thickets. They are very agile, with a great ability to climb and jump, especially trained for hunting when jumping between tree branches and from trees to the ground. Its long tail serves as a seesaw to maintain balance.

How does it reproduce?

Genets can mate from spring to late summer, although more frequently in February and March. They can mate twice a year (in spring and autumn), giving birth twice a year, although the most normal thing is that they have only one litter of 1 to 4 offspring. Offspring exclusively stay with their mother. Males, once mating ends, go back to wood loneliness. The mothers suckle their offspring in the burrow and teach them how to hunt. When the young genets behaviour becomes overwhelming for the mother, she abandons them or expels them from the burrow. This usually coincides with the fact that the mother comes into heat again. It is time for the young genets to become independent, disperse and start their lives alone. This occurs 6 to 9 months later. They are sexually active at the age of two years old.

Where can we see it in Málaga?

This species is almost present and common in the whole province, although it is not abundant nor easy to observe. We can find it on almost every stage of the Great Path (Gran Senda).

Curious facts

The genets do not appear in the Iberian Peninsula fossil record, so it has always been believed that they were introduced, perhaps by the Arabs, as pets. Egyptians, Romans and Arabs have been using genets as domestic animals and is especially useful to get rid of rodents. A recent genetic study has shown that Andalusian genets are older than Arabs. Considering that the origin of these animals is African, it is likely that the Phoenicians or the Carthaginians brought them to Málaga for the first time. Melanism is relatively frequent in genets, something that has also been related to an artificial selection of specimens for fur-bearing use in antiquity.

Similar species

It is an unmistakable species.

Routes where it can be observed

More information