Serval

Leptailurus serval


With long legs and prominent ears this elegant lightly built cat is the tallest of Africa’s small cats and is adept at hunting in the long grass of the savannah with high arching pounces.

Conservation status : Least concern
Shoulder height : 54 to 62 cm
Weight : Male 9 to 14 kg, Female 8 to 12 kg
Life span : 12 years
Gestation : 2.5 months
Young : Up to 3

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The long legs of the serval give it the height needed for hunting in long grass so that they have a better chance of seeing and hearing their prey.

It is common for servals to play with their prey. They’ve been seen tossing rats several metres into the air before catching them again.

Servals will reach deep into holes after prey utilising their long forelimbs.

Servals will scent mark not only by urine spraying (males) and squirting (females) but by rubbing their faces in the soil whilst salivating excessively.

The serval can pinpoint its prey, even if it’s underground, by using its antenna like ears.

Once the serval locates its prey it will jump into the air in a high arching pounce before it comes down fox like on the bird or rodent. These pounces have a 40 to 60% success rate

The serval is named after the Portugese name for the European lynx, “lobo – cerval”.

Using very powerful hind legs a serval can jump 2.5 m into the air to pluck birds from their flight.