name = ServalMSW3 Wozencraft | pages = 540]
status = LC
trend = down
status_system = iucn3.1
status_ref = IUCN2006|assessors=Cat Specialist Group|year=2002|id=11638|title=Leptailurus serval|downloaded=12 May 2006 Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern]

image_width = 200px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Felidae
genus = "Leptailurus"
genus_authority = Severtzov, 1858
species = "L. serval"
binomial = "Leptailurus serval"
binomial_authority = (Schreber, 1776)

range_map_width = 200px
range_map_caption = Serval range
The Serval (IPAEng|ˈsɝvəl, "Leptailurus serval") is a medium-sized African wild cat. It is closely related to the African Golden Cat and the Caracal. [] The length is 85 cm (34 in), plus 40 cm (16 in) of tail, and the shoulder height is about 53 cm (21 in). Weight can range from 9 to 20 kg (20-44 lbs). Life expectancy is about 12-20 years. It is a slender animal, with long legs and a fairly short tail. The tall, oval ears are set close together. The pattern of the fur is variable. Usually, the Serval is boldly spotted black on tawny. The "servaline" form has much smaller, freckled spots. In addition, melanism is known to exist in this species, giving a similar appearance to the black panther. White servals are white with silvery grey spots and have only occurred in captivity.

Its main habitat is the savanna, although melanistic individuals are more usually found in mountainous areas. The Serval needs watercourses within its territory, so it does not live in semi-deserts or dry steppes. It is able to climb and swim, but seldom does so. It has now dwindled in numbers due to human population taking over its habitat and also hunting its pelt. It is protected in most countries. The Serval is listed in CITES Appendix 2, indicating that it is "not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled." [ CITES Appendices ] ]


* "Leptailurus serval serval", Cape Province
* "Leptailurus serval beirae", Mozambique
* "Leptailurus serval brachyurus", West Africa, Sahel and Ethiopia
* "Leptailurus serval constantinus", Algeria (endangered)
* "Leptailurus serval faradjius"
* "Leptailurus serval ferrarii"
* "Leptailurus serval hamiltoni", eastern Transvaal
* "Leptailurus serval hindei", Tanzania
* "Leptailurus serval kempi", Uganda
* "Leptailurus serval kivuensis", Congo
* "Leptailurus serval lipostictus", northern Angola
* "Leptailurus serval lonnbergi", southern Angola
* "Leptailurus serval mababiensis", northern Botswana
* "Leptailurus serval pantastictus"
* "Leptailurus serval phillipsi"
* "Leptailurus serval pococki"
* "Leptailurus serval robertsi", western Transvaal
* "Leptailurus serval togoensis", Togo and Benin

Adaptation and breeding

Although the Serval is highly specialised for catching rodents, it is an opportunistic predator whose diet also includes hares, hyraxes, birds, reptiles, insects, fish, and frogs. [Cite web | url = | title = Serval | accessdate = 2007-03-13 | publisher = African Wildlife Foundation] The Serval has been observed taking larger animals, such as small antelopes, but over 90% of the Serval's prey weighs less than 200g (7 oz).Cite web | url = | title = The Serval | accessdate = 2007-03-13 | publisher = Cat Survival Trust] The Serval eats very quickly, and if its food is big enough, it sometimes eats too quickly, causing it to regurgitate the food because of clogging in the throat.

As part of its adaptations for hunting in the savannas, the Serval boasts long legs (the longest of all cats, relative to body size) and large ears. The long legs and neck allow the Serval to see over tall grasses, while its ears are used to detect prey, even those burrowing underground. While hunting, the Serval will pause for up to 15 minutes at a time to listen with eyes closed. The Serval's pounce is a distinctive vertical 'hop', which may be an adaptation for catching flushed birds. [cite book | author = Hunter, Luke, Hinde, Gerald | title = Cats of Africa | pages = 61-62 | publisher = New Holland Publishers] The Serval is a highly efficient hunter, catching prey on as many as 50% of attempts, compared to around one of ten for most species of cat. The Serval has been known to dig into burrows in search of underground prey.

The gestation period for a female Serval is 66-77 days - 3 to 3 1/2 months. The litter consists of two or three young (called kittens), sometimes as few as one or as many as five. They are raised in sheltered locations such as abandoned aardvark burrows. If such an ideal location is not available, a place behind a shrub may be sufficient. The Serval is sometimes preyed upon by the Leopard and other large cats. More dangerous for this cat are humans. The Serval was extensively hunted for its fur. It is still common in West and East Africa, but it is extinct in the South African Cape Province and very rare north of the Sahara.

Color phases

Melanistic Servals have been reported both in wild populations and in captivity. White Servals have never been documented in the wild and only four have been documented in captivity. One was born and died at the age of 2 weeks in Canada in the early 1990's. The other three, all males, Kongo (deceased) Tongo and Pharaoh were born at Wildlife on Easy Street in 1997 and 1999.fact|date=May 2008


The Serval has been bred with the domestic cat to create a hybrid breed of domestic cat called the Savannah.

Heraldry and literature

The Serval in it|gattopardo was the symbol of the Tomasi family, princes of Lampedusa, whose best-known member was Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author one of the most famous Italian novels of the 20th century, Il Gattopardo.


External links

* [] - pictures, breeders, some information
* [ world conservation union site] - detailed information
* [ cat survival trust] - basic information, some graphics
* [ big cats online] - short write-up
* [ Sierra Safari Zoo] - some general information, zoo-specific details
* [] - servals in the wild and as pets
* [ - Servals as Pets] - care and feeding, many articles and photos

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Serval — Systematik Ordnung: Raubtiere (Carnivora) Überfamilie: Katzenartige (Feloidea) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • serval — [ sɛrval ] n. m. • 1761; port. cerval « cervier » ♦ Petit félin de la savane, à la robe tigrée. Des servals. ● serval, servals nom masculin (portugais cerval, cervier, du latin cervus) Grand chat sauvage de l Afrique intertropicale, haut sur… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Serval — Ser val, n. [Cf. F. serval.] (Zo[ o]l.) An African wild cat ({Felis serval}) of moderate size; called also {serval cat}. It has rather long legs and a tail of moderate length. Its color is tawny, with black spots on the body and rings of black on …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • serval — SERVÁL s.m. (zool.) Pisică mare din Africa, căutată pentru blana sa. [< fr. serval, cf. port. cerval]. Trimis de LauraGellner, 08.09.2005. Sursa: DN  SERVÁL s. m. mic mamifer carnivor nocturn din Africa, cu coada scurtă, pentru blana sa… …   Dicționar Român

  • Serval — puede referirse a: Serval, comuna francesa situada en Aisne. Leptailurus serval, felino africano. Esta página de desambiguación cataloga artículos relacionados con el mismo título. Si llegaste aquí a través de …   Wikipedia Español

  • serval — African wild cat, 1771, from Mod.L. serval, Fr. serval (Buffon, 1765), from Port. (lobo) cerval “lynx,” from L. lupus cervarius (Cf. Fr. loup cervier) lynx, lit. wolf that hunts the stag, from cervarius pertaining to a stag, from cervus stag… …   Etymology dictionary

  • serval — [sʉr′vəl] n. pl. servals or serval [Fr < Port (lobo) cerval < L (lupus) cervarius, lynx, lit., deer wolf: see WOLF & CERVINE] an African wildcat (Leptailurus serval) with a black spotted, tawny coat, long legs, and no ear tufts …   English World dictionary

  • Serval — Serval, 1) (Felis serval L.), Art der eigentlichen Katzen, gelblich, mit ungeregelten schwarzen Flecken, im Nacken vier, zwischen den Schultern fünf schwarze Längsstreifen, schwarz geringeltem, steifem Schwanz, welcher nicht halb so lang als der… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Serval — (Buschkatze, Felis Serval Schreb.), Raubtier aus der Familie der Katzen, ist 1 m lang, mit 30–35 cm langem Schwanz, 50 cm hoch, schlank gebaut, hochbeinig, mit zugespitzten Ohren und dichter, rauher Behaarung, fahlgelb, bisweilen grau oder… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Serval — Serval, Buschkatze, afrik. Tigerkatze (Felis serval Schreb. [Abb. 1730]), Raubtier aus der Familie der Katzen, gelblich, mit schwarzen Flecken; Afrika. Fell bei ostafrik. Negerstämmen Abzeichen der Königswürde …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • serval — sèrvāl m <G servála> DEFINICIJA zool. zvijer (Felis serval) iz porodice mačaka, slična risu, živi po savanama tropske Afrike ETIMOLOGIJA port. (lobo) cerval: jelenski (vuk) ← lat. cervalis: jelenski, kao jelen ≃ cervus: jelen …   Hrvatski jezični portal

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