information about the Serval

Serval - Leptailurus serval

Predator with radar

cats are like supernatural, mysterious, possessing witchcraft magic . A Serval is much more impressing. A Serval is a one meter long and 18-pound cat of Africa. The spotted robber with the short tail and long legs does the trick, among his enemies, the lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and jackals to lead successfully a funny hunter's life.


The cheetah prefers the short savannah, the leopard the tree savanna, the lion the bush country, the Serval specialized in the high savannah grass. Despite its high legs it disappears completely in the wind surging stalk sea. Here he goes on the hunt. He cannot see very far. But he turns his giant radar ears in all sides. It eavesdrops on the heavy breathing of an unsuspecting lion in 300 metres of distance to the right: no danger! To the front he has a rat in the distance of 15 metres "in the ear". The master hunter sees alone at the noise whether he digs or has left its home. In the second case the Serval does not jump at once. He tamed his hunting fever. His prey might even get wind of it and quickly disappear again in their shelter. Then the tedious sneaking would be in vain. Patience pays. Only in the right moment he jumps to the high arch up to two meters high and six meters wide. Until then, he has not seen his quarry, only heard. Nevertheless, the long jumper lands right to the point, the rat presses down with his front paws on the ground, it holds the mouth, she shakes her dead and eaten immediately. Although he only barely hear the prey the attack jump goes most of the time successful. A surprisingly high success rate in hunting animals!


The "magic" of the Servals are based on such an exorbitant eavesdropping sense that we human cannot imagine. The ears tell the sea invisible in the tall grass Serval not only the exact direction of the prey, but also the exact distance. He therefore has a perfect stereo receiver. In addition, he can hear two different "channels" simultaneously, such as a prey animal and an enemy. But before he evades his danger, it must get quite thick.


Another hunting tactic is this: Instead to stalk the Serval runs with a high tempo at random through the high grass and tries to overtake the prey. Most of these birds are recognizing the enemy already on the grass and they try to fly away. But then the Serval jump and catch his prey in flight. In the art how to catch the prey in the air he is particularly well.


The spotted cats are widely distributed in Africa but still rare because they require a large territories. Their habitat extends from the Sahel to South Africa. They avoid the dense rain forest, as well as deserts. The shy animals prefer to go only at dusk to hunt. In Kenya Servals have even gained a new habitat: marshes. This was done but with the involuntary help of man. They have settled swamp beaver in the dams and dikes. Whether this South America giant rodents were abandoned or deliberately escaped from breeding farms is not clear. The graceful cats keep the invaders to the delight of environmentalists shortly.


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Body length : 75 cm -- 100 cm
Tail length : 30 cm -- 40 cm
Body height : 52 cm -- 64 cm

Weight : 10 kg -- 20 kg

Pregnancy : 71 days -- 74 days
Throw size : 1 - 4 young ones

Sex mature : 10 - 24 months

Life expectancy : 20 years


Living space

It is a typical Savanna dwellers but also lives in bamboo forests or bogs. He avoids too dry areas.





Coat pattern
The Serval has a usually black dotted beige fur. But there is an exception: The completely black color mutant also appears in the highland area of East Africa and in the Aberdare mountains. Basically, one could describe this variation as well as a panther, like the black leopard and the black Jaguar.


Way of life
The Serval can swim and climb excellently but most of his life he spend on earth.

Juvenile rearing
Juvenile rearing is the female job. Is proportionated two and a half months after the mating the carrying time for on an average 73 days -- the Serval female chooses a deserted aardvark cave, a rock niche, a hollow tree-trunk, a particularly thick bush or an other well protected place then throw in there, usually one to three kittens to the world. Like other kittens Servals are distinctive nest stools too. They are blind at the first 8 till 12 days. They spend their first 4 till 5 weeks in their safe hiding-place. Then they venture out and do their first excursions together with their careful mother.

The Serval male does not help in the rearing of kittens. The Serval female have a lot to do to curb the hunger of the kittens. At first to feed them quickly with mother's milk. Later to provide with solid food. A study of the way of life of the Servals in the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania has shown that females with kittens spend twice as much time as female without off-spring with hunting exactly. So the kitten rearing means a hard piece of work even for these imaginative predatory big cats.


Hunting behaviour
The Serval sets three to four kilometers back at his wanderings. The Serval preferred for his hunts the twilight hours in the morning and in the evening. Rodents, birds, frogs, snakes and similar, belong to the potential food. They pays attention to every silent noise with their very good sence of hearing (notice the very big ears) and jump in a high bend on his prey or catch them from their shelter. The serval make his prey unconscious before he kills with a bite.

Risk through human and dogs

Servals might seem quite adaptable cats to be. They evan can find their way in man-altered environment. Only the humans best friend the domestic dog create some trouble with them. If they are driven into a corner the Servals set bravely to defend,. But they are not strong enough to defend against a pride of big dogs. This is the reason why the Serval usually disappears fairly rapidly from areas of People are inhabited. Therefore the rapid expansion of the growing African population is the reason why the serval is being pushed back further and further.

In some parts of Africa the the Servals are hunted because of their meat, which is very tasty. His coat is applied to the manufacture of mantles for tribal chiefs use. These traditional forms of hunting happend to a Serval is not a serious risk because they never targeted and carried to excess. Fortunately, because of poor quality of the skin the international trade never asked about this like the others spotted cats. Therefore, the future of the serval not look too bleak. If we succeed in preserving this beautiful cat to continue against excessive hunting, which, especially in the large area national parks in Africa should actually be possible, we may hope to see this beautiful cat still in Africa.


Things to know
The Serval has the biggest ears in comparison with other cats and in relation to its height.

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