Aquatic genet

Aquatic genet
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Viverridae
Subfamily: Viverrinae
Genus: Genetta
Species: G. piscivora
Binomial name
Genetta piscivora[2]
(Allen, 1919)
Aquatic genet range

The aquatic genet (Genetta piscivora) is a genet that has only been recorded in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[3][4] Since it is only known from about 30 specimens in zoological collections, it had been listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List since 1996, as it is considered one of Africa's rarest carnivores. In 2015, it has been reassessed as Near Threatened.[1]

When Allen described the aquatic genet as a new genus and species in 1919, he named it Osbornictis piscivora.[5] It was reassessed in 2004, and based on molecular evidence is now considered a Genetta species.[6]


The aquatic genet's long and dense fur is dark chestnut red without spots or bands. The head is pale fuscous brown with white spots on the sides of the muzzle, and above and below the eyes, which are framed with a narrow black ring. The ears are almost naked inside, edged with long whitish hairs and blackish outside. The bushy tail is black with pale brownish underfur. The soles of its feet are naked. These characteristics differ strikingly from those of other genet species.[5] Its rhinarium and olfactory bulbs are smaller than in other genets, which may indicate a poorly developed sense of smell.[3] Its trenchant teeth indicate an adaptation to piscivory.[7]

Two adult males measured from 44.5 to 49.5 cm (17.5 to 19.5 in) in head and body length with a 34 to 41.5 cm (13.4 to 16.3 in) long tail. One male weighed 1.43 kg (3.2 lb), and a female 1.5 kg (3.3 lb).[4]

Distribution and habitat

Aquatic genets have only been recorded in rainforest east of the Congo River and in the Tshopo District at elevations from 460 to 1,500 m (1,510 to 4,920 ft). They have not been recorded with certainty from Uganda.[1][3] Based on past records, their range is predicted to be limited to closed evergreen lowland and submontane forests in the Congo Basin.[8]

Ecology and behavior

Aquatic genets are thought to be solitary and crepuscular. They primarily feed on freshwater fish, including catfish, barbels, squeakers, carps, and also Crustacean. They possibly detect the movements of the fish with their whiskers, or attract the fish by patting the surface of the water with their whiskers.[3][4]

A pregnant female was collected in December.[9] To date, nothing else is known about their gestation, reproduction and development of offspring.[4]


It is unclear whether there are any major threats to aquatic genets.[1] They are caught in snare traps set up by Pygmy people in the Ituri Forest.[9]


In 1979, the aquatic genet has been given full protection by the Congolese government. It is assumed to be present in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.[4]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Gaubert, P. & Do Linh San, E. (2015). "Genetta piscivora". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  2. Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Genetta piscivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 556. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Van Rompaey, H. (1988). Osbornictis piscivora. Mammalian species 309: 1–4.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Van Rompaey, H. and Colyn, M. (2013). Genetta piscivora Aquatic Genet. In: J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds.) The Mammals of Africa. V. Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids and Rhinoceroses, pp. 239–240. Bloomsbury, London, UK.
  5. 1 2 Allen, J. A. (1919). Preliminary notes on African carnivora. Journal of Mammalogy 1 (1): 23–31.
  6. Gaubert, P., Tranier, M., Delmas, A. S., Colyn, M., Veron, G. (2004). First molecular evidence for reassessing phylogenetic affinities between genets (Genetta) and the enigmatic genet-like taxa Osbornictis, Poiana and Prionodon (Carnivora, Viverridae). Zoologica Scripta 33: 117–129.
  7. Gaubert, P., Taylor, P. J., & Veron, G. (2005). Integrative taxonomy and phylogenetic systematics of the genets (Carnivora, Viverridae, Genetta): a new classification of the most speciose carnivoran genus in Africa. In: Huber, B. A., Sinclair, B. J., Lampe, K.-H. (eds.) African Biodiversity: Molecules, Organisms, Ecosystems. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium of Tropical Biology, Museum König, Bonn. Springer. Pp. 371–383.
  8. Papeş, M., & Gaubert, P. (2007). Modelling ecological niches from low numbers of occurrences: assessment of the conservation status of poorly known viverrids (Mammalia, Carnivora) across two continents. Diversity and distributions 13(6): 890–902.
  9. 1 2 Hart, J. A. & Timm, R. M. (1978). Observations on the aquatic genet in Zaire. Carnivore 1: 130–132.

External links

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