The serval is one of the small cats in Africa. It is most closely related to the African golden cat and the caracal. It crossed the elegant animal with long legs and big ears with the domestic cat, which resulted in the so-called Savannah cat. In this post, you will learn everything about the serval.
Name: Serval (Leptailurus serval) Body
length: 59-100 cm + 20-28 cm tail
Weight: 7-18 kg
Color: pale yellow, yellow-brown, tan with black dots, sometimes stripes on the shoulders and neck; rarely completely black
Characteristics: long legs, long neck, large ears
Habitat: Africa; Grass savannah, marshland, forest
Outwardly, the African serval is characterized by its spotted fur, which is reminiscent of a cheetah. The very long legs and the relatively small head with the large ears also make the serval unique. The serval’s tail is relatively short. Its fur is yellow, yellow-brown, or tan with black spots. In some animals, these go into stripes in the neck and shoulders. The underside of the abdomen is lighter than the rest of the fur and has no markings. Seldom, however, are there also black servals. These live mainly in the West African highlands. The white stripe on the otherwise black ears is typical of the serval.
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The serval is quite common in sub-Saharan Africa. In North Africa, however, it is only seen in Morocco. Unlike the black cat, the serval does not live in the Sahara itself, as it prefers humid areas. But it is also not found in the tropical rainforest. The serval lives in well-watered savannas with tall grass and reed beds, grass savannahs, marshland, and forests. It is often found near rivers and other areas with bank habitats. In Ethiopia and Kenya, he has been sighted at an altitude of up to 3800 meters.
Servals maintain their range for 4-9 years. For males, home ranges are larger than for females and at least 11 km up to 31 km in size. They partially overlap with females’ grazing areas, whereas there is no overlap between the areas of females.
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When the serval approaches its prey, it makes a typical high jump to make it difficult to escape. Such a sentence can be up to 4 meters wide and 1 meter high. A male animal can even jump up to 3 meters high from a standing position. When hunting birds, these skillful cats take a vertical leap to clap their paws to catch the prey.
The Leptailurus serval is a territorial cat that lives solitary. It is mainly active at dusk and night but extends its hunting season in rainy times. Even when the female has young, she is sometimes out and about during the day. Usually, however, the servals rest during the day. To protect themselves from the heat, they sleep in aardvark caves or under bushes, for example.
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According to the IUCN ( International Union for Conservation of Nature ), the serval is not endangered. However, a possible threat to the serval is the loss of its habitat. Increasing clearing for agriculture is destroying the wetlands in which it is native. Its skin and fur are also traded in many countries. The serval is not under protection in most of its distribution area. He is even persecuted in some agricultural areas as he is seen as a threat to poultry farms. The serval rarely hunts cattle.
The serval is one of those wild cats that have been crossed with domestic cats. Breeders wanted to mate the beauty of the graceful wild cat with the domesticated house cat. From this came the Savannah cat. Of course, when crossing, not only the serval’s appearance was inherited, but also its predatory genes. Therefore, cats of the first four generations may only be kept as pets under special conditions. But even after that, keeping it is not completely unproblematic because there is still a wild animal in the Savannah cat. You can hardly do justice to the animal with an apartment and occasional exercise.
The serval itself is and remains a wild animal and is therefore unsuitable as a pet. However, in some countries, it is unfortunately allowed to keep the Serval, provided certain conditions are met and a permit is available. But even if the requirements are met – for example, the 50 square meters outdoor enclosure per cat – we can hardly offer the proud animal species-appropriate housing.
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