Friday, April 12, 2013

Genet

Genetta genetta
The members of the Viverrid family may look like cats, but they are only distantly related to Felines (belonging to the same Carnivore Superfamily as the Cats, Hyenas, and Mongooses). The Viverrids are the most primitive of the bunch, and resemble some of the earliest Carnivoran creatures.

Of the 33 Viverrid species, 14 are Genets. And of the 14 Genets, the Common Genet is... well... the most common. They have a  range that extends across Africa, and they can even be found in parts of Spain, Portugal, and France.

Common Genets have pale yellowish fur with dark rows of spots, a long dark crest of fur down the spine, and a ringed tail. Like Felines, they have retractable claws that help with climbing. Unlike Felines, they have five toes on their back feet!

Also cat-like are the sounds that they make. The Genets mew, purr, and growl, but also produce various clicks and hiccup-type calls as well. Because they are solitary, most of these interactions are between a mother and her offspring, but they will also make sounds when threatened.

Common Genets are nocturnal carnivores. They feed exclusively on other animals, especially Wood Mice. A final cat-like trait? They too kill their prey via a swift bite to the neck.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Europe, Africa
Size : Body length up to 41in (1m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Viverridae -- Genus : Genetta -- Species : G. genetta
Image : Frederic Salien

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