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Serval: Stately and majestic

 

A Serval is a medium sized cat that can be found in the wilds of the African Savannah grasslands. They are highly successful hunters with elongated body’s, long legs, and tall ears. Their ears are prone to listen for prey, honing in on their whereabouts. In an instant, they can pounce on rabbits, mice and small prey. With their long legs, they can jump 8 to 10 feet to catch birds in mid-air. 

 

They are also being used in the creation of the domestic Savannah Cat breed. No Servals are ever removed from the wild. All Servals available as pets and for crossing to domestics, are born in the Unites States.

 

Their bSpotted Servallack spots, and light colored coat also helps to disguise themselves, to avoid confrontation with the bigger cats. Lions have been known to attack and feed on servals, especially their young kittens. On the back of the ears, is a distinct white stripe ( ocelli ), as if eyes are looking back at you. This is one of their distinguishing marks. The white striped marking is sometimes used to communicate with others of it species, and to alert that danger is ahead. The ocelli is also used by kittens to help keep track of their mother in the taller grasses when on the move. It is theorized that the ocelli also act as a fake pair of eyes so they are not attacked from behind.

 

They lead solitary lives and will mark their territory boundaries by spraying and clawing of tree and logs. This cat has a number of different vocalizations which include snarling, growling, spitting, purring and a high pitched cry used to call other servals as well as their young. Elusive and shy, they are for the most part nocturnal, hunting by sight and sound more than scent. Pregnancy lasts around 70 to 77 days, with litters of three to four. Kittens are born in thick grass cover or underbrush and in small holes in the low laying logs or trees. She will move her offspring frequently to new hiding places. This makes observation of the offspring very difficult.

 

The bulk of its diet consist of rodents, mostly rats with birds, frogs, hares, insects, small reptiles, fish, are taken to compliment the diet. Owing to its highly specialized physique, it is among the best hunters in Africa, boasting an astounding success rate of 50% in hunting. Servals also specializes in catching birds out of air by leaping high from the ground and making a clapping movement from its paws to catch the surprised bird out of thin air. The clapping movement stuns the bird temporarily and it falls to the ground.

 

Melanistics (black) are very rare, and can be found in the Aberdare Mountains of Africa, mostly in Melanistic ServalKenya. Melanism is predicted to occur at a higher percentage at higher altitudes in vertebrates. Most Aberdare servals are black and this may be an adaptation to help retain body heat in a cold mountainous area. There is also a white serval but the only known white Servals are born in captivity. 

 

They faces many threats in the wild including lions, leopards, wild dogs, hyenas and humans. Humans who encroach into their territory and poachers who sell their coats for money are the largest threat of all. The African Serval has been placed on the Threatened List in Africa, but soon may be listed on the Endangered List if hunting and killing is not stopped.