Nightcrawlers

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Cape genet by Brendon Jennings

Both terrestrial and arboreal, the solitary Cape genets love living it up at night, but loaf around in trees, rock overhangs and caves by day.

As an omnivore, Genetta tigrina feeds mostly on rodents, with a generous sprinkling of seeds, fruits, leaves and grass. But their menus also feature beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, termites, insects and occasionally birds. On the beach, they scavenge fish.

Although not strictly territorial, the males do defend their home ranges. Almost cat-like, Cape genets may arch their back and puff out their fur when disturbed, but being scaredy-cats, they’ll run for cover if threatened.

Weighing about 2 kg and up to 580 mm long, they have a black stripe along their backs, large spots, brown fur, huge oval ears, long whiskers and white patches around the mouth, nose and below the eyes. The thick, black and whitish-grey banded tail is tipped in black.

These small mammals prefer hanging out in moist environments near streams, rivers and standing water, as well as in lowland and mountain fynbos with high vegetation cover. Mind you, they’ve been spotted in pine plantations and urban areas too.

Summer is breeding time and the ladies prepare by making nests in holes or hollow trees. After 70-77 days’ gestation, 2 – 3 baby genets are born. They’re weaned at 2.5 months and start hunting when all of 7 months’ old.

Photo: Brendon Jennings on kariega.co.za; ref: animalia.bio