Tourists exploring the plains of Maasai Mara

What is a Genet Cat?

Facts about the African Genet Cat

A spotted genet cat is one of the animals to see in most national parks and reserves in Kenya. This small mammal lives in Maasai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Reserve, Mount Kenya and Tsavo National Park and Samburu National Reserve among other wildlife sanctuaries.

This small cat is related to rats, more so with mongooses. Genets have small heads, yellowish fur with black or brown spots, and long tails with a beautiful set of white bands. A long tail, almost the size of a genet’s body, ensures balance as this animal leaps from one tree to the other. Male genets are heavier than females and both sexes are involved in marking territories.

A genet cat marks its territory with a substance secreted by musk glands. It has semi-retractable claws just like cheetahs to hold prey and aid in climbing trees. Night game drives offer the best opportunity to capture pictures of genet cats in action. They have large ears that make it easier to hear in the bush and locate prey so they hunt at night and rest during the day. Most activity is seen after dusk until a few hours before daybreak. Males rule the night, and they have larger territories than females. Actually, genets are solitary animals though some families may share a territory.

Communication involves several sounds such as hiccups, purrs, growls, clicks and moans. Females call their kittens with hiccups while males hiccup during the mating season. When kittens are born, they open their eyes 10 days after birth. Interestingly, genets are often classified as carnivorous while in actual sense, they are omnivorous depending on fruits and insects, and you can find them in a woodland, savannah or in a forest. Their greatest enemies are owls, leopards and man.

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Profile photo of Leah Wangondu
on Mar 18, 2014

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