The Serval


The serval is a medium sized feline with very long legs (relatively the longest legs of all felines), a short tail, long neck and a small head with large, rounded ears and a short muzzle. The coat is yellow-brown, with an irregular pattern of black stripes and spots. A black color variety is common in some areas, especially in mountainous regions such as the Ethiopian Highlands, while in Uganda and Eastern Congo-Kinshasa a variety with a more speckled coat is common.

The underside is dirty white. The short tail is alternately black and yellow-brown ringed. The back of the ears are black, with a clear white spot in the middle. He has a head-rom length of 67 to 100 centimeters. The tail is 24 to 35 centimeters. Males are larger than females. Males weigh 10 to 18 kilograms (average 13 kilograms), females weigh 6 to 12.5 kilograms (average 11 kilograms).

Distribution and habitat

The serval lives mainly in savannas and open grasslands, but also in open forests, along the edge of the forest, in mountain heather areas and in reed beds around swamps. It mainly lives in areas with higher grass. It is found in most of sub-Saharan Africa (with the exception of dense rainforests and very dry deserts) and in Northwest Africa. The serval has disappeared in densely populated areas such as most of South Africa.


His diet consists of small mammals (up to the size of a hare), lizards, snakes, birds and insects. Sometimes fruits, fish and frogs are eaten and even young antelopes are sometimes hunted. The most important prey are mice, which they find by their excellent hearing between the high grass or under the ground. Thanks to its long legs it can look over the high grass. The maned wolf, a dog-like wolf living in South America, is adapted in a similar way to hunting rodents in areas with high grass.

It adapts its daily rhythm to the prey: if there are many day active mice like Arvicanthis, the serval hunts mainly during the day, nocturnal mice like Otomys and Dasymys are common, then it hunts mainly at night. Once it has found a prey, it jumps the animal with a fast jump. Underground prey is dug out or pulled out of their burrow with the long front legs. He can also grab birds with a jump from the air. The captured prey is plucked bare. Parts of larger prey are stored underground. Poultry is also eaten. It can cause a lot of damage to poultry farmers.

Way of life

The serval is a solitary species. It lives in a small territory that is defended against other servals. However, the surrounding area (up to 30 km²) is shared with other servals. The territory is demarcated with urine. At encounters between servals the animals nod their heads up and down. Often the servals make themselves very large by standing on their toes, with curved backs. In case of aggression, the animal makes growling and barking noises and pulls out with its claws. As a shelter an underground hole, a space between rocks or dense vegetation serves. The serval usually reaches the age of thirteen to twenty years.

Bron: CatVision