Genetta angolensisAngolan genet

Geographic Range

Angolan genets occur in a narrow band across southern Africa from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean between 5 and 15 degrees S latitude. (Haltenorth and Diller, 1980)

Habitat

Rain forests and moist savannahs (Haltenorth & Diller 1980, Estes 1991).

Physical Description

The Angolan genet is a cat-sized carnivore with a small head on a long, slender body with relatively short legs and a long tail. Genets have large eyes and blunt, triangular ears of medium size. Fore and hind feet have five digits equipped with short, sharp claws that are curved and semi-retractile. The soles of the feet are furred between the digital and plantar pads. Hindfeet are further equipped with long, narrow metatarsal pads. There are four teats and the males have a well-developed baculum. Both sexes have paired anal and perineal glands. Genets have 40 teeth with a tooth formula of 3/3 1/1 4/4 2/2; the molars are broad and relatively unspecialized. Males may be slightly larger and heavier than females.

The pelage of the Angolan genet is a dark gray or dark reddish-gray background with black to brownish-black spots in a complex, symmetrical pattern. On the neck and back are round or elongate dark brown to black spots forming five longitudinal rows on either side of the dark dorsal crest. The upper two rows of spots may blend together, and the lower rows are often imperfect. Separate spots continue down the proximal portion of each limb. The underside of the body is paler gray and unspotted. The undersides of the fore and hindfeet (to the heel) are grayish-black to black. The spinal hair crest of G. angolensis is relatively long (up to 6 cm) and erectile. The tail is more thickly furred than in other species of Genetta and sports a black underside and eight black rings. The tail tip may be light, or the last black tail ring may merge into a black tip. Angolan genets have a dark gray face with a slightly paler supra-orbital spot. The sub-orbital region, front of the upper lip, and chin are white, while the back of the upper lip and dorsal surface of the nose are black. There is also a black stripe from the middle of the forehead that is continuous with the black spinal crest. Very dark or melanistic individuals are not uncommon. (Estes, 1991; Ewer, 1973; Haltenorth and Diller, 1980)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    1 to 2 kg
    2.20 to 4.41 lb

Reproduction

Details unknown. Presumed to be similar to G. genetta with the range of single male overlapping that of several females, and from 1-2 reproductive cycles per year depending upon latitude. Males and females probably come together only for breeding, with 1-4 young born helpless and blind in a burrow or tree cavity after a gestation period of 70-77 days. (Estes, 1991; Haltenorth and Diller, 1980)

Behavior

Details unknown. Presumed to be similar to G. genetta in being nocturnal, resting by day in hiding places among rocks, in trees, or in ground burrows. Angolan genets are forest-dwellers and therefore probably largely arboreal. All Genetta species are skilled leapers and climbers, deftly performing head-first descents. Sense of smell is excellent, and sight is especially well-developed to perceiving movement under low-light conditions. Defecation is at regular latrines. Anal sacs are used to mark objects, often while performing a handstand. Defensive postures include erecting hair along the spinal crest while arching the back. Hair on the tail is also erectile and is often arched over the body making the animal appear larger. Under extreme circumstances, genets will hiss, spit, and emit foul-smelling anal secretions. They often seek refuge in trees. (Estes, 1991; Haltenorth and Diller, 1980)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Details unknown. Presumed to be similar to G. genetta in being a generalized predator, taking a wide variety of small vertebrate and invertebrate prey. May also eat fruit and carrion. (Estes, 1991; Haltenorth and Diller, 1980)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Details for this species unknown. However, as important predators on small vertebrates including rodents, Genetta spp. are often tolerated around farms and towns and even kept as pets in some areas. (Macdonald, 1984)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Details for this species unknown. Other species of Genetta are known to occasionally attack and kill poultry. (Haltenorth and Diller, 1980)

Conservation Status

The classification of genets (genus Genetta), particularly allocation to subspecies, is uncertain, so the status of different groups is also uncertain. The Angolan genet may be relatively common within its range, however the habitats known to be important to this species are shrinking due to human land-use practices which include logging, farming, and grazing of livestock in lands set aside for wildlife . (Haltenorth and Diller, 1980)

Other Comments

Genets are believed to closely resemble the miacid ancestors to the Carnivora, with dental and skeletal characteristics that have changed little over the past 40-50 million years. Genets are the only species within the family Viverridae that stand bipedally. (Estes, 1991; Ewer, 1973)

Contributors

Paula White (author), University of California, Berkeley, James Patton (editor), University of California, Berkeley.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5? N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Estes, R. 1991. The behavior guide to African mammals. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ewer, R. 1973. The carnivores. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Haltenorth, T., H. Diller. 1980. A field guide to the mammals of Africa. London: Collins Sons & Co..

Macdonald, D. 1984. The encyclopedia of mammals. New York: Facts on File, Inc..