Pardine Genets (Genetta pardina): Ringtails of Central Africa West of the Ghanaian Volta River

by DerdriuMarriner

Pardine genets bite and groom like cats. They have a fox's muzzle, a leopard's spots, and a raccoon's tail. They relate closely to mongeese but smell musky like civets.

Genets appeal to:
• scientists;
• traders in plush fur, tasty flesh, and unusual pets;
• wildlife-lovers.

They carry out painlessly quick kills of pesky amphibians, mammals, and reptiles by cat-like, nape-of-the-neck bites. They control fruit-bearing plants and insect pests. They do not shovel or spill food.

Genets get along with domesticated cats and dogs even though birds and hamsters remain potential prey.

They groom themselves daily with cat-like, mouth-moistened paws. They make little noise, what with digitigrade (on-the-digits, tiptoed) movements and gentle mewing, peeping, purring vocalizations. They prefer sleeping in tree burrows and hollows even though they adapt to tree houses and platforms.

West Africa's pardine genets showcase particularly beautiful, graceful big cat, small leopard, tameable wild animal looks.

Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire: credited with taxonomic identification of Pardine Genets in 1832

undated image
undated image


Scientists accept Paris-born French zoologist Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (December 16, 1805 – November 10, 1861) as the first official presenter of pardine genets to experts and non-specialists outside Africa. Isidore's taxonomic identification dates to 1832. It deals with a specimen from Senegal's interior. It evidences Isidore's career as:

  • Assistant naturalist to his father, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (April 15, 1772 – June 19, 1844), 1824;

  • Birds lecturer, 1829;

  • General animal and human structural abnormality publisher, 1832 – 1837;

  • Faculty of sciences organizer at Bordeaux, 1838, and inspector at Paris, 1840;

  • National natural history museum successor professor to father at Paris, 1841;

  • Paris university inspector-general, 1844;

  • Sciences faculty zoology professor at Paris, 1850.



Common, trivial, and vernacular names are the popular identifications by non-specialists for wildlife. Binomial (two-name), Latin, scientific, and taxonomic designations belong to experts. The two descriptions do not have to overlap. But for pardine genets, the repetition does occur since:

  • Genetta pardina represents the current scientific classification;

  • Pardine genet serves as the enduring common name, along with West African large-spotted genet.

By way of the French term genette, genet and genetta preserve the original Arabic word jarnait for an amiable, beautiful, clever, domesticable, energetic, fleet wild animal beloved by:

  • Egypt's pharaohs;

  • North Africa's Muslims;

  • Spain's Moors.

The terms pardina and pardine trace back to the ancient Greek word πάρδος (pardos) for “panther.”


Philippe Gaubert, research scientist at Département Milieux et Peuplements Aquatiques (Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle), 43 rue Cuvier, Paris:

Philippe Gaubert's taxonomic research exemplifies dynamism of Zoology: currently before International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) are Philippe's proposals for 3 new species of Genetta.
Fontaine Cuvier (Cuvier Fountain): intersection of rue Linné and 20 rue Cuvier, facing Jardin des plantes de Paris,  5e
Fontaine Cuvier (Cuvier Fountain): intersection of rue Linné and 20 rue Cuvier, facing Jardin des plantes de Paris, 5e


Genetic advances and technological breakthroughs cause scientists to reconsider, revamp, and update taxonomic identifications. Particularly as a result of Muséum national d'histoire naturelle scientist Philippe Gaubert's investigations, specialists consider the possibility of 14 – 17 genet species. It is easy to identify the fish-eating aquatic genet (Genetta piscivora), whose body and tail respectively are unspotted and unstriped. But it may be difficult for the uninitiated to differentiate between the dotted bodies and ringed tails of 13 – 16 non-aquatic genet species even though each one is identifiable by:

  • Body coloring;

  • Color and distribution of head-and-body lines, marks, patches, and spots;

  • Number and pattern of tail rings.

That some species have overlapping bio-geographies initially will complicate quick identification.  


Genetta thierryi: overlaps in all 11 West African countries of Genetta pardina's native homelands.

derivative work: Donovan Reginald Rosevear (1900-1986), Plate 3 Genetta
derivative work: Donovan Reginald Rosevear (1900-1986), Plate 3 Genetta


Bourlon's (G. bourloni), common small-spotted (Genetta genetta), Johnston's (G. johnstoni), king (G. poensis), pardine, and Thierry's (G. thierryi) genets are sympatric (same-ranging). Dr. João Crawford-Cabral -- Centro de Zoologia do Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical retired director and genet super-taxonomist -- calls the Volta River the pardine genet's easternmost expansion. Pardine genets inhabit:

  • Burkina Faso;

  • Gambia;

  • Ghana;

  • Guinea;

  • Guinea-Bissau;

  • Ivory Coast;

  • Liberia;

  • Mali;

  • Mauritania;

  • Senegal;

  • Sierra Leone.

They prefer:

  • Dense rainforests, like all but common genets;

  • Dry woodland savannahs, like common genets;

  • Forest-savannah mosaics.

They resist:

  • Johnston's and Thierry's genets' moist mixed savannahs and woodlands;

  • Thierry's genets' brush-grass and Guinean savannahs. 

Eastern extent of Pardine Genets' West African landscape: In 1980 João Crawford Cabral, Director of Centro de Zoologia of Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, suggested Volta River Basin in southeast Ghana as range barrier for Genetta pardina.

Created 1961 - 1965 by impoundment of Volta River in Akosombo Gorge, Lake Volta ranks as largest reservoir by surface area in the world.
Lake Volta from Santa Barbara Church, town of Akosombo, Asuogyaman District, Eastern Region, southern Ghana
Lake Volta from Santa Barbara Church, town of Akosombo, Asuogyaman District, Eastern Region, southern Ghana


Pardine genets are called remarkable in the 1832 description. They communicate:

  • Black-dotted fore-limbs and large-spotted rear-limbs;

  • Black-striped neck downward from each alert, big, grey ear;

  • Black-tinged, red-brown oblong and quadrangular rear- and shoulder-located rings;

  • Dark-haired soles;

  • Long-haired, mid-dorsal line darkening shoulders to tail base;

  • Tawny-grey corporeal ground-color;

  • 2 black-ringed rows per upper-side;

  • 2 red-streaked black-spotted rows per lower-side.


Genetta pardina: Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire noted that the first Pardine Genet he encountered was sweet and liked to perch on shoulders of friends and strangers.

Nevertheless, when relocated from Senegal to Muséum national d'histoire naturelle in Paris, Genetta pardina became less trusting with loss of freedom; however, she always showed affection when visited by those who had raised her back in Senegal.
Magasin de Zoologie, deuxième année (1832), Classe I, Plate 8: Oudet, sculpt; Finot, imprimeur
Magasin de Zoologie, deuxième année (1832), Classe I, Plate 8: Oudet, sculpt; Finot, imprimeur


The dark-tipped, plush tail has 6 – 7 each of narrow white and wide black rings. A “dirty” stripe runs longitudinally from tail base to tip. The tawny red head showcases:

  • Big, dark-adapted, rounded, white-ringed eyes;

  • Black-based, white-tipped whiskers;

  • Large lower-chin stripe;

  • Red-brown muzzle;

  • White-patched chin, mouth, and throat. 


Genetta pardina ~ etymology of species name pardina = Latin pardus, from Ancient Greek πάρδος (pardos), "panther" + Latin -īnus, from Ancient Greek ινος (-inos), "of or pertaining to; like"

illustration by A. di Lorenzo; lithograph by Raimondo Petraroja
Genetta pardina
Genetta pardina
Giovanni Boschi, Atlante Zoologico Popolare (1863-1879)


Excepting domesticated pardine genets' renowned affectionate loyalty, the 1832 description admits to ignoring life cycles and natural histories. Unfamiliarity continues to this day. Scientists describe as mysterious pardine genets, whose grey-furred, 2.53-ounce (71.5-gram) offspring emerge temporarily blind and deaf. But they know that physical and sexual maturity involves:

  • Dentition: 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 premolars, and 4 molars per lower and upper jaws;

  • Ear lengths: 1.54 – 1.85 inches (39 – 47 millimeters);

  • Head-and-body lengths: 16.14 – 21.77 inches (410 – 553 millimeters);

  • Paw lengths: 3.46 – 3.94 inches (88 – 100 millimeters);

  • Tail lengths: 15.35 – 19.29 inches (390 - 490millimeters):

  • Tail-hair lengths: 0.79 – 1.18 inches (20 – 30 millimeters);

  • Weights: 6.83 pounds (3.1 kilograms). 


Genetta pardina faunal synecology: Profelis aurata cottoni, subspecies of African Golden Cat, overlaps with Genetta pardina in West Africa

Adult female specimen collected on November 21, 1913, at Niapu, northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo; total length of cat = 1010 mm.
J.A. Allen, Carnivora Collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition (1922-1925), Plate LXXV, Figure 1
J.A. Allen, Carnivora Collected by the American Museum Congo Expedition (1922-1925), Plate LXXV, Figure 1

Conclusion: As their native range suffocatingly shrinks and restricts their freedom, will Pardine Genets seem less sweet while still always recognizing those humans who befriended them in pardine childhood, as noted by Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire?


Bushlands, forest plantations, gallery forests, moist woodlands, primary- and secondary-growth rainforests, and suburban areas accommodate pardine genet lifestyles. Pardine genets can be found on protected areas within their monthly bio-geographical configurations of:

  • 5.76 inches (1,081.23 millimeters) in evapo-transpiration;

  • 42.57 inches (1,081.23 millimeters) in precipitation;

  • 79.23°F (26.24°C) in temperature.

They defend themselves against environmental stresses with:

  • Handstand-released, territory-marking stink-bombs;

  • Quick getaways;

  • Sharp teeth;

  • Super-acute hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching;

  • Super-fast ascents, descents, jumps, leaps, and runs;

  • 20 curved, retractable, super-strong claw;

  • Two-footed boxing.

It is not enough against:

  • Fire-, spear-, and trap-wielding over-hunters and poaches;

  • Globally-warmed climate change;

  • Habitat-fragmenting agro-industrialism.

They need governmental protection, scientific research, and viewer support. 


Genetta pardina "Paci" ~ genetta pardina.. lei è dolcissima ("Genetta pardina, she is very sweet").

Uploaded to YouTube on January 3, 2012 by piera rob ~ URL:



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Genetta pardina's avian synecology: Campephaga phoenicea (under synonym Ceblepyris phoenicopterus), commonly known as Red-Shouldered Cuckoo Shrike (French: l'échenilleur à épaulettes rouges) ~

Red-shouldered cuckoo shrikes reside and breed in all of Genetta pardina's homelands except for Mauritania.
Magasin de Zoologie, deuxième année (1832), Classe II, Plate 9: Giraud, sculpt; Finot, imprimeur
Magasin de Zoologie, deuxième année (1832), Classe II, Plate 9: Giraud, sculpt; Finot, imprimeur

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Pardine Genets' landscape: Niokolo-Koba National Park

Southeastern Senegal's natural protected area, established as a reserve in 1925, became a national park in 1954 and was designated in 1981 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dindéfelo (Pulaar: "next to the mountain") Community Nature Reserve, Niokolo-Koba National Park, southeastern Senegal
Dindéfelo (Pulaar: "next to the mountain") Community Nature Reserve, Niokolo-Koba National Park, southeastern Senegal
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Genetta pardina avian synecology ~ Senegal parrot (Poicephalus senegalus senegalus): photo by Dennis Avon

10x14 Photo Puzzle with 252 pieces. Packed in black cardboard box 5 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 1/5. Puzzle image 5x7 affixed to box top.
Photo Jigsaw Puzzle - Ardea Wildlife Pets

Cordon Bleu or Crimson Eared Waxbill: 19th century illustration by Frederick William Frohawk (July 16, 1861 – December 10, 1946)

Pardine Genets' avian synecology: Uraeginthus bengalus (synonym: Estrilda phoenicotis) appears in all of Genetta pardina's West African homelands except for Sierra Leone.
Cordon Bleu or Crimson Eared Waxbill

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/02/2021, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 05/25/2014

Mira, Thanks for the info. I'm not finding a links module, but I'll check further later this week. I'm also in the process of making some Chitika decisions; Chitika recommends in-text ad links, so I complied but I'm thinking about removing that option because it's distracting to see their ad links in comments. :-0

Mira on 05/25/2014

Jo gives links in the body of her article. There was even a module for links at one point. I don't know if it's still there.

DerdriuMarriner on 05/24/2014

Mira, Since the only links of which I'm aware are through the sidebar, which has a limit of four, I have to pick and choose. Is there another way that would link all of my genet writings within each article?
I'm saving the aquatic genet for last. :-)

Mira on 05/24/2014

I'd be curious to see the aquatic genet!
Also, why don't you link every article to all the others? Sure, people can find them by looking up your profile, but I thought it listing them would help people who research genets find more info easily.

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