Serval

Patience typifies the hunting behaviour of many wild cats, and Servals seem to be relaxing with their eyes closed, even when they are listening intently for prey.

ANIMAL FACTS

Servals are found in grassland areas and are particularly numerous in the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania. They are specialist hunters in such terrain, capable of achieving a kill once in every two attempts — a success rate far greater than other wild cats.

This is essential for their survival, given that they mainly hunt rodents rather than larger animals. The serval’s height and acute hearing allows it to detect prey, pouncing from above. Servals sometimes hunt in shallow water as well.

VITAL STATISTICS

Distribution: Occurs widely south of the Sahara, outside the central rainforest region and southern parts of Africa. Now almost extinct in the northwest of the continent.

Habitat: Savanna, open plains, woodland.

Weight: 8 – 18 kg (18 – 40 lb).

Length: 91 – 145 cm (36 – 57 in), including tail; up to 65 cm (26 in) tall.

Maturity: 12 – 24 months.

Gestation Period: 66 – 77 days.

Breeding: Average 1 – 3, but can be up to 5; weaning occurs at 120 – 180 days.

Food: Carnivorous, hunting a wide variety of rodents, frogs and small fish.

Lifespan: Average 10 – 12 years, but can be up to 20.

Tail

The tail is quite short in relation to the legs, and ends in a dark tip.

Legs

Servals are taller than any other wild cat, in relation to their body size.

Head

The head is relatively small; these cats have large ears and a long neck.

Spots

The spots are black and often quite large, coalescing to form stripes over the back.

NO ESCAPE

Servals cannot only detect rodents in the grass itself, but also those hiding underground, which they will dig out.

Gallery of Serval