Common genets lead solitary lives. Males and females maintain small home ranges, varying in size from less than 0.4 square miles (1 km2) to as large as 0.8 square miles (2 km2). Although genets prefer an independent lifestyle, their home ranges overlap.
Common genets communicate using smell and body language. They secrete a substance from microscopic glands in the skin that identifies the social and reproductive status of the individual. They also use strong-smelling urine for marking and when under stress. Feces include the scent-marking secretion. To intimidate aggressors, the common genet hisses and shows its pointed teeth while raising the long, black hairs down its back and erecting its tail, much like a threatened cat. Mothers and their young call to each other and also communicate using visual and olfactory cues.
Fully nocturnal, the common genet is extremely active in total darkness and rests during the day. Although they’re good climbers, common genets spend most of their time on the ground, only ascending trees to look for food or to escape danger. When walking, they hold their bodies close to the ground and their tails horizontal. To travel long distances, they typically follow roads, game tracks, or dry streambeds.
The common genet population is robust throughout its large swatch of habitat. They are abundant in protected areas, though they are sometimes hunted for medicinal and decorative purposes.