For its size -- about 4 1/2 pounds and 20 inches long -- a genet is a skilled and powerful hunter. Often thought of as a carnivore, genets will eat nearly anything if it's convenient. Found in Africa, Asia and Europe, genets are part of the Viverid family, which includes mongooses.
Genets are ferocious hunters, eating rodents, birds, bats, eggs, frogs, lizards and insects, such as centipedes and scorpions. They hunt often, which is due in part to their tendency to eat their favorite parts of their kills, such as the head or breast, and leave the rest behind.
Genets aren't above stealing a meal from someone else's leftovers. This can be the kills of other genets, where most of the meal was left behind, or carrion left over from other predators. As solitary animals, most genets won't share their meals with each other if they're still eating, but they don't mind taking bites of food when other animals finish.
As humans spread farther into genet territory, genets have found a new source of easy and seemingly endless food. Typically nocturnal, genets creep around populated areas and snag pet food that's left outside or human food that's left out to be thrown away, sometimes having altercations with cats or other pets. Genets also hunt domesticated animals, such as chickens, that are left unprotected outside.
When They're Pets
These animals don't just live in the wild -- they are also kept as exotic pets. When feeding a pet genet, keep his natural diet in mind. Insects such as crickets are readily available at pet supply stores, and you can usually find frozen feeder mice like those sold to feed snakes. Thaw feeder mice before giving them to your pet. If you aren't thrilled about handling insects and frozen mice, a high-quality cat food will likely suffice for your genet's diet. He might like a mix of wet and dry food so he experiences different textures, like he would in the wild. Use a food that has low carbohydrates and high protein, which is similar to his natural diet. Add some fruit here and there for variety. Check with your vet to determine how much food your genet needs and which food is right for him.
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