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Animals in need of help: Baby Small spotted Genets

With Summer having arrived, all mammals are having their babies. We do however ask that before trees are cut down, that they be checked for nests with baby birds in or for small spotted genet babies. We recently had a tree cut down without being checked, resulting in three baby small spotted genets being thrown from the tree. Two of the three has survived the fall and are now being hand raised. In the event of finding a baby needing help, or if you are unsure if it needs help, contact Judy from the wildlife in crisis rehabilitation centre on 073 112 1131 or the Environmental manager Odette on 082 462 9518 for assistance.

Some background on small spotted genet or common genet (Genetta genetta)

The common genet is a slender, cat-like carnivore, recognised by a crest of long, black hairs that runs from the shoulders, along the back to the base of the tail, which can be erected when threatened. The rest of the fur on its elongated body is pale yellowish-brown with about three to four rows of dark spots running horizontally across the body, while the long, often white-tipped tail is patterned with between 8 and 13 black rings. The common genet has a rather large head, rounded ears, brown eyes, and whitish patches beneath the eyes and near the tip of the pointed muzzle. Like a cat, the common genet has retractable claws, enabling it to climb trees with agility. The male common genet tends to be larger than the female. Male length: 86-105cm, Female length: 84-102cm, Tail length: 33-51cm, Weight 1.4-2.5kg.

Common genet biology

The common genet is primarily a nocturnal animal, although young genets may be active during the day. Adult common genets tend to live alone, although the home ranges of a male and female often overlap. It prefers to remain in areas where it is protected by vegetation, especially woodland, and only ventures into open areas for hunting. Being carnivorous, the common genet feeds on a wide variety of small mammals and birds, but has a particular preference for wood mice.

Female common genets typically give birth to between one and four offspring after a gestation period of approximately ten to eleven weeks. The cubs emerge from the den at about 45 days old and start to eat meat after 7 weeks. Common genets can reproduce after reaching sexual maturity at about two years old. The lifespan of the common genet is about 13 years in captivity, but is likely to be shorter in wild populations.

Common genets have several different vocal calls, each used in certain situations. The ‘hiccup’ call is normally used by the mother and her offspring during the first five months, while the ‘purr’ call is used by offspring in their first week of life, and the ‘moan’ or ‘mew’ call is displayed by newly-dependent young genets. There are two types of aggressive calls: the ‘growl’, heard from young genets after they have developed hunting behaviour, while the ‘click’ call communicates serious threats.

Common genet habitat

The common genet favours dry areas such as rocky hills and Mediterranean woodland where crevices in the rocks and trees provide food, shelter and protection from predators. It tends to live where there are high densities of its favoured prey, the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus). The Small-Spotted Genet has a diet which consists mainly of small mammals and insects. Bats, birds, reptiles, amphibians, millipedes, centipedes and scorpions have been recorded as their food source. It would appear to eat less fruit than the Large Spotted Genet.

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