Head and body length ranges from 49 to 60cm and tail length from 42 to 54cm. Genetta tigrina is a short-legged, long-bodied viverrid with a white-ringed, black-tipped tail and a dorsal stripe that runs from the shoulders to the base of the tail. The color of the spots and dark markings of the pelage varies from black with a few interspersed rust-colored hairs to uniformly rust-colored. The background color of the upper parts can be white, grey, or buff. The blotched genet displays both geographic variation and polymorphism. Animals from the dryer areas of south Africa are characterized by lighter color tones and more subtle patterns, whereas those from moister areas are darker with more striking patterns. Both reddish and greyish individuals occur together within a locality and probably within a litter.
Average mass: 1820 g.
Average basal metabolic rate: 4.189 W.
Habitat and Ecology
Genetta tigrina is found in a broader variety of habitats than other genets. In the dryer parts of their range they are almost exclusively associated with riverine habitats. Thick cover is an essential element of their habitat; although they are seen hunting in grassland, they are much more commonly found in woodland. They do not occur in the southwsetern arid zone of Africa. They are frequently found in agricultural areas, where populations of murid rodents are large.
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Blotched genets eat a broad variety of food items including small rodents, birds, reptiles, fruit, and invertebrates. One study found over one half of the stomach content items of blotched genets examined to be invertebrates; the three most commonly eaten of these were Coleoptera, Orthoptera, and Isoptera, respectively. Crabs and fresh-water mussels were also found, but these are eaten infrequently. The most commonly taken mammal is the murid Praomys natalensis.
Life History and Behavior
Status: captivity: 9.5 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Very little is known about the reproductive patterns in Genetta tigrina. The scant birth records imply that breeding takes place throughout much of the year: There are records of gravid females in Transvaal in November, newborns in Kruger National Park in February, a suckling female in eastern Transvaal in September, and a young litter in northern Southwestern Africa/Namibia in October. Gravid and lactating females have been recorded from August through February in the South African subregion. Litter size ranges from one to five. Natal nests are found in the roofs of houses, under boulder piles, and in hollow trees. The litter does not accompany the mother on her hunts. The young remain in the natal nest until they are ready to move on their own.
Average birth mass: 71.5 g.
Average gestation period: 70 days.
Average number of offspring: 2.5.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 1461 days.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
The blotched genet is reputed to kill domesticated poultry.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Genetta tigrina preys heavily in agriculturally developed land upon rodents of the family Muridae. Many of these rodents are crop pests; this genet may play a role in controlling economically harmful rodent populations.
The Cape genet (Genetta tigrina), also known as the blotched genet, large-spotted genet or muskeljaatkat in Afrikaans, is a carnivore mammal, related to the African linsang and to the civets. It lives only in South Africa. Like other genets, it is nocturnal and arboreal. They prefer to live in the riparian zones of forests, as long as they are not marshy areas.
Similar in appearance to the common genet (G. genetta), the Cape genet has yellowish-grey fur with rust-colored and black rosettes, with a black and white tail. Individuals from drier areas of South Africa tend to have lighter colors and less stark patterns, while the opposite is the case in moister areas. Melanistic individuals are known.
Its diet is varied, and scientists consider it to be an opportunistic omnivore. Their diet consists of animals such as: birds, spiders, scorpions, fish, and insects. They also eat grass, which can aid digestion, dislodge hair in the intestines, induce vomiting to get rid of ingested toxins, relieve throat inflammation and stomach irritation.
The Cape genet is one of the species of genet kept as an exotic pet, in the U.S.A. and elsewhere.
- Gaubert, P. & Hoffmann, M. (2008). Genetta tigrina. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 24 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
- Roberts, Peter D. et al. (2007). Diet of the South African large-spotted genet Genetta tigrina (Carnivora, Viverridae) in a coastal dune forest. Acta Theriologia, 52, 45-53.