Small spotted genet or feline genet?

Good day everyone,

This is the first time I post something on this website. I’m new, although following this website for a while.  I’m a birdwatcher but last years more and more interested in mammals.

Last November we went to Namibia.  In Okonjima (Africat founfation) there is a night hide (there are putting some food in the night), where we saw honey badger and porcupine but also as the guide called a “small spotted genet” or common genet.  We don’t have pictures as it was hiding in a tree but back to our camping we realized that there is also a subspecies, now considered by some as a species and called feline genet.  The problem with a lot of guides is that they don’t take into account subspecies or possible splits.  Feline Genet seems to be widespread in Namibia.  Small spotted genet is only occuring in a part of Namibia (unless of course feline genet still considered as a subspecies of small spotted genet).  I’m trying to find out whether we saw a small spotted genet or a feline genet, and of course without pictures it is almost impossible.  Based on the guide the Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals both should occur in Namibia but when surfing on the net, I don’t find useful information about feline genet in Namibia.  The guide spoke about small spotted genet but most guides don’t take subspecies and splits into account so I’m really wondering what kind of genet occurs in that particular night hide in Okonjima.  Maybe someone has been to that particular night hide, as the genet cat is coming here almost every night.

Thank you for sharing some useful information.



  1. vdinets 7 years ago

    Are you sure you have the names right? I thought feline genet and small-spotted genet were the same thing: the South African subspecies of the common genet, currently proposed to be split as full species. I think it’s the only subspecies in Namibia.

  2. smutsia 7 years ago

    Hi Jean-Philippe – vdinets is right in the sense that Feline Genet (Genetta genetta felina) has previously been regarded as a subspecies of the Common Genet (G. genetta). In the recently published update to the Kingdon field guide it is cautiously elevated to a new ‘provisional’ species, Genetta felina, pending further taxonomic work. According to the distribution maps in this field guide Okonjima lies pretty much on the cusp between the two so location alone won’t help you in an identification. Both animals have dark dorsal crests, but the primary pelage difference suggested by Kingdon is the sandy base colour of G genetta versus the very grey base colour of G felina, as well as the pale hind feet of G genetta vs the very grey limbs of G felina. Bearing in mind of course that G genetta has over 30 subspecies described and is notoriously variable in pelage pattern …

    • Author
      jeanphilippebelgium 7 years ago

      Thank you for your comments. Indeed it is cautiously elevated to a species and Okonjima lies more or less on the border of both so I don’t think I will be able to identify it for sure. If the subspeces felina remains a subspecies, we saw common genet, but the day felina is officially elevated to species, I won’t be able to tell whether we saw a common genet or a feline genet. Thank you for your comments.

      • Jon Hall 7 years ago

        Thanks “smutsia” .. ..Jean Philippe,. I hope that someone does some trapping in Okonjima and discovers only one species is present. Maybe that is the most you can hope for now.

      • vdinets 7 years ago

        Have you tried looking for genet photos from that hide online? You might be able to see the coloration details.

  3. Author
    jeanphilippebelgium 7 years ago

    Yes, I have tried to look for pictures from that hide, but I don’t find any. I have found two video’s on the net from that hide, but they only show the porcupine and the honey badger. Based on other pictures on the net, it is difficult, as the differences between the common and the felina are subtle. Like Jon said, probably the most I can hope for is that someone goes to that night hide in the near future, which may bring more clarity.
    Thank you for your help and comments

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