The Serval Conservation Organization

African Serval
Leptailurus serval

Weight: 30-40 pounds
Head/Body: 32 inches
Tail: 16 inches
Subspecies: 14

The name Serval is derived from a Portuguese word meaning "wolf-deer." The Serval inhabits the jungles and the plains of Morocco, Algeria and South Africa. This felid has a small head, tall ears, short tail and somewhat resembles a lynx. They have also been mistaken for a small cheetah. Its slender body with the long, springy back legs and shorter front legs helps the serval to leap or jump high for its prey. A serval's weight can range from 25 to 40 pounds. Its body in length (excluding the tail) can range from 24 to 42 inches. The tail length is around 12 - 18 inches. Shoulder height is approximately 20 - 24 inches depending upon the sex of the serval.

The coloration of the Serval's coat is a yellowish tan with black spots, stripes and bands. The black markings are set on a white yellowish background. Some servals are noted to have their background color from a buff red to a pale yellow gold. Servals have white muzzles and underparts. Each serval does have a very unique coat pattern, meaning each coat pattern is different. They are long-legged and their large ears have distinctive white spots that almost look like eyes on the back of their ears. All-black "melanistic" varieties have been observed in Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. White servals have been spotted, but these sightings are rare.

Servals living in the grassy areas have a greater range than those inhabiting the forests. The Serval opts to feed during dawn or dusk, and the main attribute in their search for food, is their acute hearing. Their diet consists of birds, lizards and rodents. Occasionally they will eat some grass like domestic cats.

Unlike other animals, they do not have a set breeding period, but most of the young are produced during spring. The size of the litter is from 2 to 3 kittens. The female Serval traditionally holds a territory spanning 2 to 9 square kilometers, while the males cover twice that area. A typical male will show aggressiveness when called for. Small groups of male adults have been noted together, usually resting in daytime and active at night.

The Serval is listed as Least Concern. It does not currently qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.