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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Purrrfect Facts About The Serval Cat Kids Will Love

Serval facts are highly engaging

Servals, also known as 'giraffe cats' are native of Sub-Saharan Africa. They are actually wild cats but with the appearance of leopards and the gracefulness of domestic cats. They can be easily traced in southern, eastern, and western provinces of Africa, south of the Sahara and central parts of Africa. According to natural history, servals are self-dependent mammals. They prefer to live in abandoned areas. They are the most competitive among all the wild breeds of the Felidae family. A serval can be aggressive and might attack humans when they feel threatened.

A serval jumping to catch its prey is a delightful sight to behold. Renowned as the best hunter and one of the deadliest predators among all the breeds of cats, servals are extremely flexible, agile, and quick-footed when hunting for prey. The size and build of a serval might perhaps look deceiving but it allows a competitive advantage over its prey. With an excellent sense of hearing, observation skills, and spontaneous action, servals are one of the most skillful wild animals. Although they are small in size when compared with leopards, they are equally adept hunters and they are also known for being the largest among the cat family. Unlike leopards who often engage in chasing, the servals attack their target by positioning and camouflaging themselves among tall grasses, listening patiently to its movements, and finally leaping over it using its front paws to incapacitate and devour it. A direct blow on the chest followed by a bite on the neck can even kill an animal or human. Did you know that servals are so swift in their actions that they can actually use their flexibility for high jumps to catch small flying birds and their powerful front paws to deliver fatal blows?

If you like to read about wildlife then you might find these serval facts enlightening. You can also check out these interesting facts about Siberian tigers and Asiatic lions for fun.

Serval Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Serval?

A serval is a wild cat.

What class of animal does a Serval belong to?

Servals belong to the class of mammals.

How many Servals are there in the world?

Approximately 300 servals can be found in zoos across the world, while it can be found in abundance in several African regions of south, west, and east (apart from the African desert areas).

Where does a Serval live?

Servals are mainly found in grassy lands, savannas that are enclosed with trees, bamboo thickets, reed beds, and long grasses. They are also suited to mountainous terrains and areas with bodies of water, making them vulnerable in arid desert-like climates or rainforests.

What is a Serval's habitat?

Servals are animals adapted to the habitat and natural climatic setting of Sub-Saharan Africa. Servals can adapt to semi-arid or even moist climatic conditions but they generally tend to avoid regions with desert-type climate. Servals mainly thrive in woodlands, thickets, open and grassy spaces that offer them the scope of a good hunt for their regular diet. They often mark their territory by spreading smell and urinating at different spots.

Who do Servals live with?

Servals live a life of solitude and seclusion. Apart from raising their litter, they like to spend time in deserted areas and they do not move in packs. Even after the completion of the birthing process, the female servals detach from their litter as early as possible.

How long does a Serval live?

Servals survive for around 12 to 20 years depending on several determining factors including habitat, diet, weather, and others. The oldest wild serval to live to date was 23 years of age at the time of death.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction system of servals is unique. Since servals are solitary animals, the males and females do not live together and there is no specific breeding season. The females send signals to the males through smell and after the breeding process completes, the females seclude themselves in desolate areas where they can wean and give birth to the litter. Normally, the gestation time is approximately three months. On average, a serval female gives birth to one to three kittens (with a maximum of five). The females look after the litter while the males stay completely away. The females start distancing from the kittens from four to eight months and separate from them completely once they learn to hunt for themselves.

What is their conservation status?

According to the surveys conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, servals do not fall under the endangered category apart from some sub-species, or the North-African species like the black serval that is extremely rare. In fact, a serval can be easily tracked in the grassy regions of Africa.

Serval Fun facts

What do Servals look like?

Servals have the distinguished look of a leopard and the harmless look of a domestic cat. The color of their fur coat is tawny with black and white spots and stripes. They are medium-sized with a long giraffe-like neck, large ears with a white spot on each (believed to be crucial for communicating), long legs, small tail, and observant eyes - all these bodily features along with its slender build aid its prey-catching techniques. The body size varies according to males and females but generally, the African serval cat is 23 - 36 in (59 - 92 cm) long and 17 - 24 in (45 - 60 cm) tall when calculated from shoulder length.

Servals are considered the largest in the cat family

How cute are they?

A fully grown serval looks exactly like a cross between a cat and a leopard as a serval comes with several characteristics of both species. They are therefore very cute.

How do they communicate?

A serval communicates with a variety of sounds. A serval has large ears that help it to trace the whereabouts of the target that it intends to hunt. In these cases, communication involves high-pitched shrill sounds, growls, nasal sounds, or even aggressive purring. A serval can also meow and purr like domestic cats.

How big is a Serval?

Servals are medium in size. They are larger than any house cat but smaller than panthers or leopards. They have a small tail but long legs that help them to hunt for survival. They are 17 - 24 in (45 - 60 cm) tall when calculated from shoulder height.

How fast can a Serval run?

A serval is a species of wild cat that is adept at hunting (not when they are enclosed in the zoo). Undoubtedly they are good runners. They can run up to 43 mph (70 kph). Their long legs also make them extremely efficient in jumping and pouncing right at the prey from a great height. Serval cats are highly flexible and agile.

How much does a Serval weigh?

The weight of a serval varies with respect to the males and females with the males generally weighing more than the females. The weight of an average serval ranges between 15 - 40 lb (7 - 18 kg). Their moderate weight also serves as a great advantage while hunting.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Both the males and females of the species share the common name of 'cat'.

What would you call a baby Serval?

A baby serval is generally called a serval kitten.

What do they eat?

Servals are carnivorous animals and highly skilled at hunting their prey. So, their diet mainly comprises reptiles, rodents, birds, large insects, frogs, small antelopes, and other similar animals. When restricted in the boundaries of a zoo, they are generally fed with fish, rats, and rodents.

Are they slobbery?

Servals are not at all lethargic. Quite the opposite, they are filled with energy and often wander from place to place throughout the day in search of prey.

Would they make a good pet?

Servals might prove to be good pets but keeping these wild cats as domesticated animals is not recommended since the act would involve altering their nature that has been accustomed to wilderness through the ages. It is also considered illegal in many countries, including the UK, because of the decreasing number of species due to hunting and poaching.

Did you know...

Servals normally go out to hunt during the early hours of the morning and sometimes, late at night as they are nocturnal animals. Servals are fully equipped to defend themselves from adversity but predators like hyenas and leopards often threaten their existence. Apart from the predators, servals also face the danger of human encroachment in the wildlife regions - servals are poached and captured mainly for their fur. Although a native of Africa, servals have now been exported across the world. The USA holds more than 150 servals in its zoos, sanctuaries, and forest reserves.

Let's find out the differences between serval vs savannah cat. Servals have been used to produce hybrid offspring that would inherit some characteristic features of the magnificent animal. The crossbreed as a result of interbreeding between a serval and a domestic cat, commonly called savannah cats, yielded favorable results. A savannah that inherited the appearance of servals and the meekness of a house cat could be tamed. On 7th April 1986, the first savannah kittens were born in the USA and although they imbibed certain traits of the servals, they were not meant for wildlife but to be a purring companion of humankind.

Characteristics And Health Issues

A serval is an intelligent mammal that can fend for its existence. It has high levels of energy and possesses exceptional hunting capabilities. Like any other flesh and blood animal, a serval is prone to several health issues and diseases. A lot of the immunity and strength depends on the diet that servals have as well as their habitat. Nevertheless, servals might develop severe health issues when raised in captivity of zoo or restricted household enclosures as they are well-suited for wilderness and not domestic spaces.

Getting Your Own Serval

Adopting a serval is not a good idea. Although we often find servals in a zoo or reared in forced captivity, they are best suited to wildlife habitats. Keeping them restricted in a zoo or domestic spaces implies the possibility of drastic changes in their behavior due to alteration of diet, climate, environment, and others. Moreover, a serval might not be too affectionate or friendly towards humans or children. Owning a serval is banned and strictly forbidden in many states of the USA. Servals' actual home is in the wilderness.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about other mammals including Balinese cats and ocelots.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Serval coloring pages.

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