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
phylum = Chordata
genus = "Leptailurus"
genus_authority = Severtzov, 1858
species = "L. serval"
binomial = "Leptailurus serval"
binomial_authority = (Schreber,
range_map_width = 200px
range_map_caption = Serval rangeThe Serval (IPAEng|ˈsɝvəl, "Leptailurus serval") is a medium-sized
African wild cat. It is closely related to the African Golden Catand the Caracal. [http://www.botany.wisc.edu/courses/botany_940/papers/Johnson&2005.pdf] 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 furis variable. Usually, the Serval is boldly spotted black on tawny. The "servaline" form has much smaller, freckled spots. In addition, melanismis 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 CITESAppendix 2, indicating that it is "not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled." [http://www.cites.org/eng/app/index.shtml CITES Appendices ] ]
* "Leptailurus serval serval", Cape Province
* "Leptailurus serval beirae",
* "Leptailurus serval brachyurus", West Africa,
* "Leptailurus serval constantinus",
* "Leptailurus serval faradjius"
* "Leptailurus serval ferrarii"
* "Leptailurus serval hamiltoni", eastern
* "Leptailurus serval hindei",
* "Leptailurus serval kempi",
* "Leptailurus serval kivuensis", Congo
* "Leptailurus serval lipostictus", northern
* "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",
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 = http://www.awf.org/content/wildlife/detail/serval | 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 = http://www.catsurvivaltrust.org/serval.htm | 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
aardvarkburrows. If such an ideal location is not available, a place behind a shrub may be sufficient. The Serval is sometimes preyed upon by the Leopardand 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 Provinceand very rare north of the Sahara.
MelanisticServals 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
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.
* [http://www.serval-cats.com/ serval-cats.com] - pictures, breeders, some information
* [http://lynx.uio.no/catfolk/serval01.htm world conservation union site] - detailed information
* [http://members.aol.com/cattrust/serval.htm cat survival trust] - basic information, some graphics
* [http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/agarman/bco/serval.htm big cats online] - short write-up
* [http://www.sierrasafarizoo.com/animals/serval.htm Sierra Safari Zoo] - some general information, zoo-specific details
* [http://www.servals.org/ servals.org] - servals in the wild and as pets
* [http://www.exoticcatz.com/speciesserval.html ExoticCatz.com - Servals as Pets] - care and feeding, many articles and photos
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