Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.
What Is a Genet?
The information in this article comes from my experience with my pet genet and information from the testimonies of others owners on pet care forums. Always do your research when acquiring ANY animal, and prepare to care for that animal for the duration of its life.
One of the first challenges of genet ownership is categorizing this unusual little pet into an evolutionary context for inquiring minds.
One of the lesser-known native African animals except perhaps among the exotic pet community (they aren't even identified in your spell check), the spotted genet is in the family Viverridae along with civets, binturongs (also known as bear cats) and linsangs.
Are They Cats?
No. They are feliforms, which is a suborder that includes felines and mongooses, to which they are distantly related. The genet’s behavior and appearance are very similar to that of the animals they resemble; however, they are truly unique with their own specialized behavior.
They have retractable claws and very long tails, and they're agile, squirrel-like climbers. Literature states that genets have scent glands with a distinct smell that can be expelled when they are threatened similarly to a skunk, but I've never experienced this, and it doesn't seem to be reported as a problem among other genet owners.
Their range consists of mainly Africa but also extends to parts of Europe, where some genet species have been introduced.
What Kinds of Pet Genets Are There?
In the pet trade, they may be referred to as large spotted, rusty spotted, and small spotted. Although the name 'small spotted genet' may sound like this is a smaller animal, online sources claim this is a reference to their spot size.
It's likely that the species of genets in captivity in North America may be crossbred and vary in size, so don't let the naming fool you. My genet was sold to me as a small spotted genet, and he is indeed very small, with different behavior from larger genets (this is the only form I have personal experience with). However, all genets have very distinct personalities and behavior quirks.
A Typical Interaction With My Genet
Do Genets Make Good Pets?
For every animal, it depends on the person, but for most people the answer will be no.
When people state that an animal makes a ‘bad pet,’ they are generally speaking of its ease of care, friendliness, and adaptability to the human home. These are traits that domesticated animals have perfected. However, a genet is not particularly a ‘hands-on’ type pet.
They Are Independent and Skittish
They are aloof and independent. You will get to 'hold' the genet (or, more so, have it perch on you) if the genet decides that will be so, and the honor is usually directed toward the caretakers who are there most often.
When a genet does decide to climb on you, they often don’t have the boundaries that keep their claws from harming their owners. This is why some genet owners carry out the controversial practice of de-clawing, which I don't consider ethical.
Genets that are not handled frequently from a young age might be even warier of people. They can be incredibly skittish; mine has the requirement to run to a safe location in 10-second intervals or if any threatening sound arises.
These qualities are literally stitched into the animal's DNA, no matter how much socialization one provides. Yes, this is a domestic 'wild' animal, but to an owner who doesn’t require an animal to be very cuddly and is accepting of the genet’s nature as extremely independent (if they get outside, you’ll need lottery luck re-catching them), a genet is a possible fit.
Profile of Genets as Pets
|Genets as Pets||1 (lowest)||2||3||4||5 (highest)|
Interacts with keeper/sociable
Good with children
Care and Management
Genets are semi-arboreal, so they need a tall cage with a suitable width to be comfortable that should also include ramps and many levels. If the cage is not extremely large (many recommend 6 by 8 feet for the larger species), then they will require plenty of time out of the cage to play/forage. A genet play session will consist of the animal being extremely curious, potentially knocking down valuables, and climbing to high places with startling bursts of energy. A space for this animal's behavior is a must.
Do Genets Use a Litter Box?
Many owners report they do, and others say that success with litter box training is on and off. Usually, genets select an area to use, and a box is simply placed in that location. In my experience, mine uses the bathroom anywhere on the bottom level of his cage, and I just place four litter pans there, in which so far he consistently eliminates there.
Update: Upon adulthood, now he appears to try to find a new place to eliminate outside of the first floor and away from his litter box. While his pee seems to stay in the proper location, the poop keeps ending up on the floor of the cage, strangely around the same times.
Some people have problems with the males spraying, and sometimes troublesome male behavior is curved with neutering. My genet is not neutered, and so far, I've never witnessed the spraying.
I hear many recommendations of 'cat food' for genets, but what is meant by that? 'Cat food' can be generic, dried-up pellets from a conventional convenience store, or whole non-living prey with bones and organs. Which logically sounds like a healthier diet?
One may want to reconsider what they feed cats and dogs if they prefer the former; domesticated cats may have evolved, but their physiology hasn’t. Always continue to do research on complex topics like pet nutrition.
A genet has similar dietary requirements to that of felines, including their high taurine, low carbohydrate needs. It would be a good idea if using commercial food to choose a high-quality ‘organic’ food with human-grade ingredients.
Giving carnivorous animals access to prey with the bones intact is particularly important for proper dental health, so attempt to incorporate this into all captive carnivorous diets. Genets eat reptiles, insects, birds, and small mammals in the wild. Some of this can be found frozen in reptile supply shops. A mix of ‘high-quality’ cat or ferret food, whole prey, eggs, and some fruits and vegetables should be a sufficient diet to start with.
Always know exactly what you’re feeding any pet, and understand the nutritional composition while keeping the food items varied. This will help to prevent the onset of diet-related illness. Neonates can be given kitten milk sold at pet stores and ‘pate’ cat food for weaning. The weaning process can be lengthy compared to other mammals.
What I Feed My Genet
My genet came to me feeding on canned Friskies, and he had digestive problems (diarrhea and a raw bottom) that seemed to resolve themselves after I administered some coconut oil instead of his amoxicillin. I also fought a musky odor. I now feed a mix of Wysong and Orijen cat and ferret food. The ferret food contains very high meat and organ content for true carnivores.
I mix that with canned cat food from Wellness (or other varieties of canned food), which has higher quality ingredients and no fillers such as corn or soy. I mix this with whole prey such as Can O' Worms' canned crickets and chicken hearts. I often feed supplementary vegetables such as dandelion greens. My genet only uses the bathroom about twice a day even though he eats a lot, which may suggest he is using a lot of his food.
Many exotic pets are being banned in many states. I believe genets often dodge the bullet because not many people know what they are or that they exist in the pet trade (bans on exotics are often enforced by ignorant legislators).
However, many states do consider them wildlife. No matter what you’re told, be sure to check with your state’s Department of Agriculture, and then check with your county, neighborhood association, and any other relevant parties/jurisdictions.
Just ask them if they impose any restrictions on species of animals that can be kept as pets. No reason to give them any ideas! Some cities often impose unreasonable laws, so you’d be out of luck there. I can, with much assurance, tell you that they are not legal in the state of California where ferrets are also not welcome.
Portrayal on Wild Justice
The show Wild Justice on the Nat Geo channel aired an absurd tainting of this animal's image as a pet. Genets certainly are not 'friendly' with strangers as it takes them some time to adapt to new situations.
It is very unfortunate that due to California's oppressive laws (ferrets are also banned in the entire state) this little animal was maliciously abducted by authorities, and the person who had it in his possession is facing severe disciplinary action (3 years probation and a $1200 fine). Just another example of bad pet laws gone awry. Please become educated on this subject and fight for your rights to own pets.
The price range for small, rusty, and large spotted genets are in the $900–$1400 range, and one must also consider shipping costs if buying from a non-local breeder. Older animals may be less money but may have permanent ‘non-pet’ behavior. Try to obtain your genet from a reputable breeder.
Find a good ‘exotic’ vet, but remember to be on top of your husbandry, because the chances of a vet who has even worked with zoo animals having seen a genet are still low. The exotic vet may be an ‘exotic’ specialist, but every single species of animal is not the same as the other just because they share the characteristic of being ‘zoo animals.’
Genets will need to be vaccinated with a killed virus for rabies, although this vaccine is not approved for genets and has no legal standing if your genet bites someone. If they may be in contact with dogs, a distemper vaccination would also be something to consider.
Where to Find More Information
There is not much literature on genet care out there, so join a forum with other keepers and be proactive and updated on any new information. This, however, is good advice for any pet.
I recommend reading this book for more information about exotic mammals in captivity: Restraint and Handling of Wild and Domestic Animals.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a male African spotted genet, and he is turning two years old today, and I've noticed that he is ready to mate, but I can't seem to find any females of his species for him to mate with. Can genets mate with regular domestic cats or is it unlikely?
Answer: Genets are not cats. They cannot reproduce with cats.
Question: I have a genet in my house's roof. It is wild and urinates on the downlights. It leaks through and drips on the floor. The smell is unbearable. What can I use to get the smell out? We wash the floors with warm soapy water, but it doesn't seem to work.
Answer: I use nothing but water, so if you still smell something there is probably pee in areas you can't access, since it is living in your roof. If you can order a Hav-a-Hart trap or something similar you can bait the genet with some fish or meat.
Question: Is the Genet legal to own in New York State?
Answer: I believe so. I had one when I lived in New York State.
Question: How long should I let genet pets play around the house?
Answer: As much time as possible, but minimally 30 minutes per day. It is a lot easier to get a bigger cage, because this is a hard commitment. Especially if the genet is not so tame.
© 2011 Melissa A Smith
Taya on August 20, 2020:
It seems rather cruel to take an animal like a genet from Africa and put it in a cage. I find it hard to believe that living in a cage and only having some play time indoors is a great life for a basically wild animal.They are beautiful, but deserve to live their lives free, not in cages. I'm thankful for your webpage though as it helped me realize i wouldn't ever buy this type of animal and try to have it as a pet.
ScreamoPrincess on July 14, 2020:
Anyone Know if you can get genet in Chicago?? Just Wondering btw love your articles Melissa A Smith!
Jasmine ford on December 23, 2018:
Melissa A smith do you know any websights that have information about genet care thank you.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on November 19, 2017:
person here 2day Thanks. He stalked me from the Amazon forums but now these forums are gone. Hurrah.
person here 2day on November 17, 2017:
Wow. That Jones guy is a petty, whiney little baby troll, huh? Guess they have nothing better to do with their life than harass people on the internet they don't even know. Kinda sad, really. I think your genet is awesome btw. The videos of him in action are really cool.
flamethrower on March 22, 2017:
That's really cool!!
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 24, 2016:
Fuffy is alive and well! Unlike your cat...
Mr C O Jones on April 24, 2016:
Hey Melissa, your poor little genet dead yet? Hope he tears your throat out. How's the psychiatric treatment going, by the way? Still taking the tablets?
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 24, 2015:
Annerene-- Yes, releasing it into the wild is not a good idea. You don't need to mate her, why not get her fixed? Your genet sounds like a better pet than mine!
Annerene on May 23, 2015:
I have a beautiful small spotted genet. She was found on a friend's farm and given her to me to look after. She was so small that she only had gums? Her left front leg was broken and our vet fixed her nicely. Now she living in our home. We also got het n friend im the form of am9 week old cat. This helped us to potty train the genet. At the moment she is in heat and i am desperetly trying to find a mate for her. Even the male is still small. She needs someone of her own kind. We also thought about releasing her back into the wild but se is to tame. She will go to any person and they might think she has rabies so we keep her at home. If there is anyone who can help me find a mate for her i would appreciate it alot. Thank you!!!
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 24, 2014:
Trisha are you talking to me or the first commenter? If you get two genets they will probably be inclined not to bond with you. I'm sorry to hear about all the oppressive rules for genets in Maine, but it's better than them being illegal anyway. Why are dogs and cats basically throw away pets that no one regulates while the state goes mad for genets? Their diet can be compared to that of a ferret. Don't feed crappy commercial diets, but high end, high protein kibble and whole prey preferably coming from rodents. If you go to the ourspottedgenets FB page the owners keep their genets with children, but in keeping them with children, get the larger species. The small one I have could be dangerous with them if he gets scared. As for looking cool, my genet hides most of the time people come in my room, and he cannot be held.
Trisha on April 24, 2014:
Wow. There's a lot of petty drama on here. What a shame. Would be better if it was more educational and less dramatic.
Trisha on April 24, 2014:
The rule in Maine is, if it's nit on the list, it's not legal OR you need to obtain a license. I called about genets. They are not illegal.. yet, however you DO have to have to have a license and you WILL be given surprise inspection of the animal's wellbeing and living environment. You are also required to have a vet who is educated on the animal prior to acquiring one and in order to obtain your license you have to prove you have a certain size cage as well as provide the vet's phone number. They will contact the vet first, check out the living environment and THEN issue your license. It can be done but it's an expensive pain in the butt. Not just that, but genets do better with a cage mate so your cage has to be a decent size. I purchased a ferret nation and THAN was told it's not big enough to house two. :/ So back to the drawing board. Extensive care research and dietary requirements are also required. They pretty much have the same rules for you at home as they do for the wildlife park. If you are caught with one without a license, because of their tendency to bite strangers and lack of proof that rabies vaccines work on them, they will not transport it to a rescue facility. They WILL euthanize. So please don't be so selfish as to risk their lives just to have a pet that "looks cool". If you get a pet just because of what IT can do for YOU, than you are too selfish to be trusted with any animal. It should always and ONLY be what YOU can do for the animal. What do you have to offer it that will give the animal a chance for a happy life? It should never be about how "cool" it can make you look when your friends come over. The animal and you will both suffer for your selfishness. These are NOT easy pets to care for. They are only a bit easier as far as caring for WILD animals go. Their needs are specific and their behaviors are stamped into their DNA and cannot be "trained" out of them. You have to work around it and change your environment to make it okay for them to be who and what they are. They are not cats. Punishing them physically WILL lead to them becoming violent. They are NOT good with children because of their tendency to bite and scratch. They have to climb to maintain mental health so declawing is not only inhumane but for them, it's cruel and unusual. It's cruel for any animal. Imagine someone cutting off all your fingers from the knuckle up. That us what "declawing" us. Most vets won't even do it because it's cruel. So really REALLY think about what you are doing before you get one.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 12, 2013:
Thanks Julianna. Genets are certainly not 'poached' in the wild. Their biggest threat is occasionally being killed for fur or as livestock pests, but their populations (with the exception of one subspecies I believe) are highly stable and they are not removed for the pet trade, although if they were it probably still wouldn't impact them.
Julianna on September 12, 2013:
I've been reading your page about this beautiful animal and I have to say, the comments above really make me think! I own a Ball Python, which is on the lower end of the exotic 'spectrum' she was born in captivity and eats mice. Does this mean I am a poacher? Do I associate with poachers? Obviously not. I love my animals. My two cats (four newborn kittens) and my snake. I spend hours researching and taking care of them to the best of my ability. It sounds that you do much the same with your animals! So why would anyone come here and cause a ruckus? When clearly she is an animal lover and has nothing to do with the exotic wildlife trade? It is unjust. Tsquared seems to have alot of experience in the wild and probably feels strong about the beautiful creatures she had witnessed being poached but her anger is misdirected. Why not start a bill or a peaceful riot against the real culprits instead of chatting angrily back and forth with someone who is obviously very dedicated to her animals? Just because she purchased an exotic animal doesn't necessarily mean she has anything to do with the poaching going on where you're from. Everyone- calm down. We all love and respect animals. Why not get along?
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 02, 2013:
I think you are harping on something of little importance, Dronsie. I don't mind that you feel as though I 'abused' you, or if anyone else does. I think I defended myself, very successfully, from your trolling. If that was abuse, then perhaps it should be called 'necessary abuse', or rather, 'comeuppance'. I approve of all my posts, including the ones Amazon so annoyingly removed.
Mr C O Jones on September 02, 2013:
So did you abuse me or not? Which is it? Either your sentence means ‘I did abuse you, as much as you abused me’, in which case why did you say ‘I didn’t abuse you’ when you know you did, or it means, ‘I didn’t abuse you’, which is clearly a lie. So which is it?
Actually, don’t bother to answer, because I know what it is; you wanted to say that you didn’t abuse me, but also to cover yourself just in case I produced evidence to show you did. So you managed to say that you did and you didn’t abuse me in the same sentence. Typical hypocrisy from you.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 01, 2013:
Please re-read that sentence "Jones, I didn't abuse you...at least, **not anymore than you did me**.
Did my comments hurt your feelings? :) Yes indeed I wrote that. It was well deserved! I'm sorry you feel 'abused' by me, the internet can sometimes be a nasty place.
Mr C O Jones on September 01, 2013:
Ha ha ha, scared your hub page readers will see you for the bullying, loud mouthed looney you really are, eh? You didn't abuse me, eh? I admit that most of your worst posts have been deleted by Amazon for the abuse they contained, but here are a couple of quotes from one of the milder ones, chosen at random:
‘Mr. CO Drones-on-and-on-like-a-doofus’
‘but you are a miserable cretin soo...’
I could find many more. So calling someone a miserable cretin isn’t abuse in your book? Are you a liar or just stupid?
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 31, 2013:
Jones, I didn't abuse you...at least, not anymore than you did me. Our conversation got heated. I feel as though cats can live decent lives indoors if their owner is a good caretaker. I am vehemently opposed to cats free-roaming and killing wildlife in addition to being a nuisance to other people. I think you went off the deep end when you sunk to bullying me and accusing me of random nonsense. It didn't work out for you did it?
Mr C O Jones on August 31, 2013:
Hey TSquared, don't worry about it. This woman's got severe mental health problems. She's been on plenty of other forums abusing anyone who disagrees with her. I pity the animals she's in charge of.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 02, 2013:
Aggression? Aggression! Why on Earth might I be unhappy with your comments? Could it be the part where you accused me of being not much better than a poacher? Of being vain and cruel? Perhaps. But it was mainly the way you approached me, having the audacity to talk to me in such a condescending way about a sensitive subject when you are obviously trying to be 'helpful'. A word of advice, you won't convince anyone of your viewpoints if you accuse them of being criminals and insinuate that they have no moral compass. So really, the thing I found the most offensive is that you were trying not to be!
What makes you think that having an exotic pet would make me the type of person who would want to camp out in the Bush and chase poachers? No, I'm a pet owner, not an international traveler trying to save the world. I am a pet owner just like any dog or cat owner. You think these animals (dogs and cats) do not fall victim to bad trades? I am as responsible for the illegal exotic pet trade as much as a dog owner is responsible for puppy mills. People have a really hard time seeing exotic pet owners as mere pet owners. We have to be directly associated with every person or entity who has wronged an animal of the non-domesticated nature. 'Exotic pets' are just one giant diverse group of animals all lumped into the same category; only dog and cat owners are ethical, is your core belief. I think that logic is whacky. Trust me, you are trapped in your ideological faith. I was not suggesting that you were a Buddhist, but that their written values are reminiscent of those that people who attack me appear to respect. Things like "one cannot own an animal" (although you hypocritically suggest that cats and dogs are for just that). You adopt fanciful notions about wildlife and the way things 'should' be that do not apply to my perspective. If you understood half of my perspective, you wouldn't be saying about 90% of what you've said to try and convince me of anything.
TSquared on May 02, 2013:
Gosh, such aggression! What's all this fixation with zoo's? FYI, I've never worked in a zoo, in fact, we don't even have one in this area! Most of my experience is in a 600 000 hectare conservation area, of which 300 000 hectares is wilderness status reserve where most of our work is done. I don't get to work there because I'm a social butterfly or on the back of high grades. I'm there through damn hard work and a LOT of sweat & tears. As far as offering you a peek visit, an hour would not even get you into the reserve proper. When open-minded visitors join us on excursions, we advise they join us for a minimum of 4 days on the ground: ie; sleeping, eating, tracking -LIVING in the bush. So if you're up to it, that's what the offer is. If & when you join us on the ground, maybe you'll get a chance to see what us social butterflies do when poacher's bullets are flying & you have to make a choice: him or me? That's not what I understand as the definition of a social butterfly! As for the exotic pet INDUSTRY, I do recognise that there is a large legitimate network around the word in this field. What you don't see is that as the 'fashion' for exotic pets increases, so does the illegal trade in these animals. The result of the demand for exotic pets growing is an ever spiraling increase in illegal collection and shipping, in atrocious conditions, of huge numbers of wild harvested 'future pets', with a very small percentage arriving on the other side alive. Why don't you go down to your local customs office & volunteer to help clean out the bodies, and euthanase the half-living critters that reach your 'free choice' country's shores alive. Lastly, why the attack on a religion? NONE of my comments so far have been of a personal nature, slating you, your occupation, country, race, gender, personality or creed. You obviously defend by attacking on a personal level as you don't seem to be able to logically argue the facts stated, or have the faintest idea of what happens in 'the bigger picture'. One day when you're privileged to have a wild animal accept you as no threat and choose to share its territory with you, you'll understand how humbling this is and that my views have nothing to do with religion, Buddhist or other!
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 30, 2013:
Well isn't that great for you? See, I love it when people who get to play with wildlife get on a pedestal and tell others they can't do it but I can "visit some time" and spend less than an hour doing something I'd like to be doing full time but can't because I'm not a social butterfly-type who would get hired at a zoo or win them over with excellent grades. That's why I love what this country is 'supposed' to stand for. I should have the freedom to get my own animals and be happy at my own discretion if I can afford it and care for the animals sufficiently. I can assure you that I am the owner of this animal. I paid for him, he lives in my room, and if you take him from me I'm calling the police. He's not going ANYWHERE. It's my animal! Sure he's a trophy, a trophy of freedom to make one's own decisions even though so many people tell me I should not.
Oh yeah I get it, Buddhists say you can't own anything yadda yadda...he's my property. Not very PC is that? Oh well. If it makes you feel better you can believe that he's not my animal.
TSquared on April 30, 2013:
Hi, Melissa. Lets agree to disagree on the topic of keeping wild animals as pets. Eventually their wild instincts rule and that's when people get hurt, usually resulting in the euthenasia of a 'viscious' animal. We see it every day, even with sociable animals like vervet monkeys and mongoose. Actually, I have been involved with hand rearing wild animals that have been orphaned or born in captivity, with the purpose of either rehabilitation or housing them in captivity for care and education purposes. This includes smaller creatures right up to a male lion. It was an absolute privelage to interact with all of them, especially the lion & giraffe. The lion was 48 hours old when rescued and was reared the same way you'd rear an orphaned kitten, by hand, cuddled & cared for like a pet. I enjoyed many hours playing with him & romping around with him when he was fully grown. Have you ever had a full-grown giraffe take fruit out of your mouth? Or run through a field with one running behind you like a puppy? Eventually these animals reach maturity and all respect due a wild animal needs to be given as their genetic instincts rule. I can give you countless records of hand reared house pets, that just happen to be an 'exotic' or rather wild species, that has been handed to authorities for destruction because it has reached maturity and it's behavour has changed. My hubby & I adore anything non-human and appreciate people who love & respect animals the world over. I do however have difficulty with the concept that paying money for a living creature classifies one as their 'ownwer', as if they are a trophy. I don't 'own' any of my animals. I have chosen to be their care-giver and do this to the best of my ability. In return, I get love, entertainment, protection and loyalty. Come visit some time...
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 30, 2013:
Hi TSquared, I'm just going to let you know right off the bat that I found your comment offensive, self-righteous, and degrading. Do you not think I deal with your types on a regularly basis, and listen to how it is their opinion that keeping "wild" animals is wrong? I have multiple hubs that continue to address this topic. Did you even read this one?
It is clearly stated in this article that genets are skittish, nocturnal, ect. I actually own one so I know these basic facts. Clearly, the animal is a suitable pet for ME because I still have it and it's not going anywhere. If you find these qualities to be that of a bad 'pet' for YOU then don't get a genet, problem solved. You're not going to sit there, give me rudimentary zoo facts and tell me what to do.
Genets are not threatened by the pet trade AT ALL, so that part of your lecture is just useless. Genets in the USA are captive bred. Do you know what that means? No one needs to take them from the wild and they probably don't.
The fact of the matter is, you have experience with wild genets, but you will never understand them as well as I do since you haven't raised one. They, along with many other exotic animals are significantly unique from wild born and raised animals. They develop personalities and more sociability. They can't do this in the wild because they are busy trying not to die, if you will look at my profile pic, does that look like the behavior you're used to? I prefer raising animals over watching things suffer and die in the wild any day. You will learn things about the animals that are impossible to learn watching a dot in the distance or a tail disappear into a bush. My outlook is very politically incorrect, and I couldn't care less. You are messing with the wrong exotic pet owner :)
TSquared on April 30, 2013:
Hi! I live in South Africa and am involved in conservation. We have resident wild genets in our yard and from all their natural behavour, they would NOT make good pets. They are extremely shy and skittish, and being nocturnal, these traits alone make them unsuitable as pets. They do spray when alarmed and this smells like rancid burnt peanuts. Ours are large spotted genets and we have seen them eat everything from large insects, small rats, birds, etc. One even got into an aviary and killed a full grown crow. Their small size hides a ferocious little hunter. Genets also have a fair range, nesting in trees during the day. Our residents has female and has a 'nest' in a well sheltered tree. Genets are very solitary and antisocial, displaying territorial behaviour. Obviously in mating season they come together, but after mating, the local male seems to leave the female to rear the young. Observing the natural genets, my view is that it is cruel to try and keep these shy creatures in captivity and 'force' social behaviour on them. On the other hand, mongoose are very sociable creatures, are diurnal, and make wonderful pets when reared from young. We also have wild ones in our yard and I prefer not to turn them into pets, thats what cats & dogs are for, and all live harmoniously in our yard and environs without any danger to each other. In fact, with other creatures like water monitors, snakes, and a veriety of raptors resident, we do not have a vermin problem at all. We live in the middle of SA's 4th largest city, Port Elizabeth, which has a deep natural valley running through the middle of it. We are about a kilometer from this. We also spend a lot of time in reserves working in conservation and firmly believe that wild animals should be respected and left happily where they belong. The trafficking in wild creatures is dessimating some species and we are seeing some of our local species becomming endangered soley as a result of the international demand for exotic pets. These creatures have evolved in a habitat for a reason and to then transport them to foreign climates, often with a survival rate of the 'shipment' being in the region of 25%, is just as criminal as killing a Rhino for its horn and ears. Breeding and cross breeding exotic species should also be criminal as it seems to be just to satisfy a vain desire to OWN another living creature. Spend some time looking at your local wild creatures and think how you'd feel if these start dissappearing for foreign exotic pet trade. Save your money and visit our country to see all these wonderful creatures in all their glory. Our board's reserves cost R35(US$3)/night for camping & R250 (US$8/adult) for 4 adults in a chalet in a globally recognised environmental hot spot. We have new species discovered that don't even have names yet. Disrupting the natural balance can destroy this. Think! Tracey
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on December 14, 2012:
Sorry Vince, I don't know anything about how to acquire exotic pets in countries aside from the U.S. You're going to have to make sure they are legal where you live first.
Vincent on December 14, 2012:
Hello, i'm french and i live in réunion island, it's a small island tropical next to the south of Africa. I really want have a genet and I am ready to make all efforts for habitat and food for the welfare of the animal.Where i can find my genet ? and i think it's not possible to import the animal.
Lesley on September 12, 2012:
I think a lot of folks out there don't realize how disgusting declawing really is. After the surgery, there's no guarantee that the animal WON'T be crippled for life or start to have extemely withdrawn and disturbed psychological behavior. The process has thankfully become illegal in most modern countries, but America is still behind on this one. If someone is THAT worried about their furniture or getting their leg clawed, maybe they shouldn't own a pet. I don't even see the concern honestly, especially for a genet. From what I've read, they don't typically exceed 8 lbs and therefore cant really harm you that much. As small as they are, if you ever have problems with the claws, id suggest using toenail clippers if you can get them to stay still for it. I do it once a week to my cat (she likes to "knead" all over me which can start to hurt), and it's a painless alternative to permanent removal
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 11, 2012:
Thanks for you comment and support Leslie. My genet uses his claws extensively and it would be very cruel to remove them.
Lesley on September 11, 2012:
Well, it's something you have to be willing to tolerate just out of love for the animal as far as claws are concerned. I have a cat, and I would never consider declawing her unless for some reason it would be beneficial for her own health. I imagine the procedure for declawing genets would be the same as cats, which actually entails an amputation of the last "knuckles" as you could imagine it on a person.
For the author of the post, my cat loved to climb on me as a kitten, but that behavior pretty much stopped at about 7 mos of age. When a cat does it, they never mean to injure you. When a cat climbs all over you, it's because it feels safe and happy with you.
Also, the genet is adorable. People like to criticize things they font understand when they start making all this big talk of banning exotics, but if you are giving this animal the proper attention it needs, it's much better off with you as an owner than having to survive in the wild.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 09, 2012:
Hi flashmakeit. I've never had a cat. I'm not sure how to answer that. I don't think cats climb on their owners so often.
flashmakeit from usa on September 09, 2012:
You wrote that when a genet wants to climb on you, they often do not have the boundaries that keep their claws from harming their owner and most owners de-clawing them which you do not consider ethical. What do you do when your cat climbs on you?
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 10, 2012:
Thanks Shaddie. Those were very educated points. People often forget when they point to one issue with exotics it is not unique to the pets that they don't object to. It's all about exotics carrying a negative stigma for being unconventional. I wanted to make similar points in my hubs, especially about people with compromised immune systems. I think it's time people stop looking to scapegoat sources of disease and work on their body's natural ability to resist the multiple sources of it. If you don't want to catch something from a reptile, don't get one. But you're not safe when handling a hotel remote either.
Shaddie from Washington state on June 09, 2012:
I would like to chime in as well with some added notes in response to JayeWisdom's comment. I find that many people with opinions against exotic animal ownership will often bring up the subject of zoonotic diseases (that is, diseases transferable from animals to humans).
You mention plague in your comment, yet the predominant carrier of this ancient pathogen today is actually domestic felines. Tularemia is a disease that can be carried by rodents and lapines (pet hamsters and pet bunnies), and hepatitis E's main carriers are deer, which are more typically kept as farm animals than pets.
Yet in light of these possible diseases, I find it curious why there is such a focus on possible exotic-to-human transmissions when the more termed "conventional" pets account for toxoplasmosis, brucellosis, campylobacter, leptospirosis, rabies, and salmonella on a much higher scale than do the former.
Indeed, salmonella has been burned into peoples' minds as being carried by reptiles solely or primarily or perhaps more lethally, yet according to the CDC itself in a 2009 report, laboratory-confirmed Salmonella isolates from nonclinical nonhuman sources resulting from reptiles alone counted only 19 cases. This is second lowest only to other domestics (cats and dogs), whose incident numbers were 6. But to put this in perspective, horses accounted for 74 incidents, wildlife were responsible for 136, and chickens claimed 4,464. On the other side of the spectrum, salmonellosis cases confirmed from human sources (resulting from contaminated food) were 40,828...
Because of these numbers, collected from the Center for Disease Control itself (the reports of all past years can be accessed publicly through their website), I feel that the "salmonella argument" when trying to persuade exotic animal ownership holds very little water in an educated society. Zoonotic disease is a risk to immunosuppressed people with any animal contact, be it with exotic, domestic, stock, or wildlife. I don't feel that it is a very strong arguing point for either side.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 09, 2012:
Cont...So the essential question here is, why do we, exotic pet keepers, deserve more scrutiny than other human activities? Keeping these types of pets are as important to us as dogs and cats are to other people. Try telling a dog owner to 'just get a cat' in a universe that stigmatizes their pet choice. Genets are not like cats. I actually would love to have a pet cat (and a serval, eventually), but I also have a desire for exotics. They are unlike domesticated animals in their appearance and behavior.
As you can see from my description, I don't really have much to do with socializing, and these unique animals are mentally stimulating to own. Maybe there's some truth to that 'status' symbol. I plan on writing a hub about this as well. I'm perfectly OK with being honest and saying that owning unique pets can make me feel 'special', as responsibly owning them is a reflection of my interests and gives me a sense of purpose and individualism.
They don't necessarily 'hate' people. Not many hamsters enjoy people so much either. It's just not in their nature to be pack companions like dogs are, yet cats are somewhat solitary as well, only showing affection to their owners. My genet is similar to that, however his solitary nature actually makes him a better 'pet' because he is not solely dependent on interaction with me like a cockatiel (an animal I used to own) would be. I can't be around them 24/7. Many birds for this reason are prone to mental distress.
I don't think my genet would survive the winter in my state. This is why it would be unthinkable to let that happen. I'm sure many pet dogs and some cats wouldn't survive the winter either if they got loose. I don't see what that has to do with anything. I don't think a feral population of genets is possible here, and I haven't heard of any such thing anywhere else in the USA. There's just not enough of them, and I think as long as they aren't popularized by being sold in pet stores, this will continue.
Again, thanks for your thoughts.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 09, 2012:
JayeWisdom, my articles are hopefully meant to communicate my perspective clearly toward those who disagree with me. I strongly encourage comments that are for or against, so I can try to provide some insight. Thank you for investing time into thinking about this matter, as most people simply yell "wild animals are not pets" to me and do no thinking on their own. I have no problem addressing anyone's concerns.
You've inspired me to create another hub on invasive species. Here's my suggestion for a change of perspective; you are thinking only of the negative impacts of exotic pets because you have a sort of prejudice against it, and you are singling exotic pets out...but nothing else. This is very common. I did a quick search of invasive species in my state. The animals of the highest concern that are invasive in my state are all -domesticated- animals, or animals that have arrived here from other human activities that are not pet keeping.
You made compelling statements that I agree with about animals competing with other invasive animals. You suggested that I get a cat, yet cats are the biggest offenders of this. People around here irresponsibly 'free-roam' their cats. When I was younger and was walking home, I saw someone's pet cat with an animal, and after unsuccessfully trying to chase it from the prey, I went home crying. It was clear to ME that pet animals do not belong outside. I've been a very strong opponent of pet cat free-roaming and 'TNR' methods of feral cat control ever since. I would love to see a law passed that bans this practice. Cats are extremely invasive, both pet and feral.
Iguanas are a problem in two states, Florida and Hawaii. The latter state has severe restrictions on most pet species. Florida does need to step it up with some of their regulations. Exotic pet keeping is just one way, and its most likely not a significant source of this problem (again, I'll need to research and write a new hub). I have been planning a hub on exotic pets and disease, reading some scientific articles on the matter. It certainly is an issue, but I question if it is ethical to once again, focus on one source of disease and ignore others, ruining people's lifestyles. Diseases come from food and domesticated pets too (cont).
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on June 09, 2012:
I just read your profile and realize that you and I are "poles apart" in the way we think...especially about animals. I recognize your right to your own beliefs and opinions, hoping you also recognize my right to disagree.
I also sincerely hope my lengthy comment about your genet article doesn't hurt your feelings or upset you, since your profile indicates you are a sensitive person. I would not purposely cause you or anyone else emotional pain.
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on June 09, 2012:
Why did you choose an exotic pet, especially one defined as "nocturnal and secretive", whose normal diet is "small mammals?" With so many unwanted domestic cats annually euthanized, why spend a lot of money on an exotic "feliform" rather than rescuing a regular cat? Status symbol?
I plead guilty to being judgmental. However, I don't believe legislation in the USA against keeping exotic animals as pets is "unreasonable" or "ignorant", even if the animal in question is not on the endangered list.
Major environmental problems can ensue if exotic animals escape from captivity or are let go when their keepers tire of them (not that I'm suggesting you will do the latter).
Florida currently has an "explosion" of iguanas--literally hundreds of thousands "exotic pets gone wild" living and breeding everywhere. (I note you also keep an iguana.) This situation necessitated laws to determine what Florida property-owners are allowed to do if they find an iguana in their backyard and don't want it to remain there.
First, a special permit must be acquired to capture it, either on a DIY basis or by hiring a wildlife trapper. Iguanas must be trapped humanely, and there are public places where it's illegal to set them loose, so these restrictions must be observed when releasing them.
Of course, once that iguana is gone it will likely be replaced by another that finds the property attractive!
Since a lot of elderly people live in Florida, these residents may find keeping their property iguana-free a prohibitively difficult and expensive situation.
Also, some exotic species may become the source of potentially dangerous pathogens--even relatively rare diseases such as plague, tularemia, monkeypox, and hepatitis. The animals may only be carriers rather than becoming ill with the disease. For example, iguana droppings can carry salmonella bacteria.
Wildlife scientists use a statistic they call “the rule of ten." One in ten exotic animals escapes into the wild. One in ten of the escapees will survive to establish a breeding population. One in ten of the established exotics will become an environmental pest in an area that is not its natural habitat and which formally had none of this species.
Those species that escape, survive and thrive will increase in population as the number of breeding pairs grows with each generation. If an escaped exotic "pet" is not indigenous to this country/environment, its population in the wild may cause serious problems for property-owners.
There's another issue that may adversely affect an escaped exotic...that of an animal whose natural habitat is a hot climate suddenly being on the loose in a cold one. For example, if your pet iguana escaped from your home during a snowstorm, it probably could not withstand the frigid temperature. I don't know how the genet would fare.
This exotic species problem (the "one in ten rule") is considered a kind of cruelty to animals. As foreign animals are introduced into to the natural habitats of our native animals, the result is unfair to the both the non-natives and the native species. When the non-native species escalate in numbers, they will likely be persecuted and killed. Native species that are not equipped to deal with the invasive species must compete with them for territory and food. There is not a winner in this situation except for those who profit from the sales of exotic animals.
While I can see that feral genets in New York might actually be handy to control the city's rat population, this might not be the case in other areas. What "small mammals" might a suddenly-wild-in-the-USA genet use as its diet?
Just asking....I'm really curious about the reason for your pet choices. Why have a pet that obviously doesn't like people and doesn't want to be a pet?
Shaddie from Washington state on January 22, 2012:
What a wonderful article! There is not a whole not of reputable information out there on genet care, it's nice to see a Hub here with such an abundance of care tips. I'd love to see more articles about your personal pet, I'm sure you have a lot of stories to tell :)
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 05, 2012:
@Eiddwen Thanks :)
Eiddwen from Wales on January 05, 2012:
What an interesting hub, I had never heard of these beautiful animals.
Here's to reading many more of your hubs.
Take care and enjoy your day.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 03, 2011:
@ Sonya Do you mean legality? You'd need to check with the officals of your area. Mine hates my dog but he's pretty small so I can't blame him for being afraid. Some play with smaller dogs, they should just be introduced early.
Sonya on August 03, 2011:
Do you think there OK in London, Ontario? I want one but idk if they'll be OK with dogs (tho ever breeder has told me they are)
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 22, 2011:
Yeah, Maine sounds iffy. I glanced at their bill and they didn't specify anything.
Phoebe Pike on May 21, 2011:
They look adorable! I'm pretty sure it's not legal here in Maine to have one, but they are so cute! :)