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Genet facts for kids

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Temporal range: Pliocene–Recent
Genetta genetta felina (Wroclaw zoo).JPG
Common genet Genetta genetta
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Viverridae
Subfamily: Viverrinae
Genus: Genetta
Cuvier, 1816
Type species
Viverra genetta

See text.

Genets are Old World mammals. They are viverrids, in the same family as civet cats. They are feliform carnivores of the family Viverridae.

The closest relatives of genets are the civets, linsangs, fossa, and mongooses. Almost all species are in the genus Genetta. The common genet, Genetta genetta, is the only viverrid living in Europe. Other species live in Africa. Fossils of the genus have been found from the Pliocene.

Genet botswana
Genet in Botswana at night

Genets have long tails, about one to one and a half times the length of their bodies. These longs tails are a counterweight which helps them keep their balance as they leap from tree limb to tree limb. They are not strictly terrestrial, and spend much of their time in trees. Genets have semi-retractable claws, which they use for climbing and holding prey, but not for fighting.

Genets are highly agile creatures, with quick reflexes and exceptional climbing skills, and are the only viverrids that are able to stand bipedally. They are able to walk, trot, run, climb up and down trees, and jump.

They often feed on small mammals, such as rodents, shrews, and bats. Small rodents are captured by the back and killed with a bite at the head, then eaten starting with the head. They also eat birds, bird eggs, centipedes, millipedes, scorpions, and various fruits, including figs and olives.


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