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  • Maxine Smith


Genets are small carnivorous mammals closest related to Civets. They resemble small cats but have much shorter legs. Genets are mainly greyish white in colour, covered with blackish spots and stripes. On Nyumbani, we mainly see two types of Genets: The South African large-spotted Genet and the South African small-spotted Genet. They are very similar in appearance with the most noticeable difference being the colour of the tip of the tail. The large-spotted has a black tipped tail while the small-spotted has a white tip.

Genets hunt just like most cats, using stealth and camouflage. Their coat helps them blend into their environment, where they can creep up nice and close before pouncing to make their kill. Genets will hunt a wide array of prey from grasshoppers to rodents and birds.

The Small-spotted genet particularly likes trees and will often be found sleeping high up on the branches. Genets are nocturnal and spend the day sleeping in holes in tree or termite mounds. We generally have more luck with nocturnal animals, like Genets, in the Winter months as the days are shorter so nocturnal animals often come out a bit earlier.

If you have been on Safari in Africa, you might have had the privilege of experiencing the fresh popcorn smell of Leopard urine. This smell is from the same compound that is found in the urine of Genets where the smell is usually stronger.

Although it is an animal we don’t see too often and not for long when we do, Genets really are a beautiful animal.

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