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Servals in the wild nature

Serval (Leptailurus serval) - a slim long-legged cat of middle sizes.

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Serval has the highest legs and large ears among cat family (in relation to the body sizes). There are white spots – "false eyes" on the back side of each ear, which help to disorient predators and help cubs to follow to mother through the underbrush of the thick forest. It has the miniature head; its tail is relatively short..

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Due to a number of morphological peculiarities a serval is considered to be a close relative of lynxes and caracal, although in marking it mostly resembles a hunting leopard – dark spots and strips at the yellowish grey background. The breast, stomach and neb are white. Ears on the external side are black with yellow or white lateral spots.

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There are variations in markings of different geographical races of serval. Servals that live in steppe and sparsely vegetated areas differ with large spots at the light background. Forest servals are darker, squat and their spots are smaller; they have previously been separated into a separate species "serval like cats" or servaline.

The transfer between these two types is even, in particular there, where their areas border on each other. Thus, in Uganda and Angola there were the species with large spots at the dark background and in Guinea, Togo and Ethiopia – with small spots at the light yellowish background.

In the mountain regions of Kenya there are black servals; here they are up to a half of population. White servals with silver grey spots are known only in bonds.

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Servals are spread almost in all territory of Africa, including Sahara, forests of equatorial zone and southernmost of the continent (Cape Province). To the north of Sahara (Algeria, Morocco) this animal is now extremely rare but still rather usual in the Eastern and Western Africa.

Servals inhabit the open spaces with brushwood and grassy bushes, settling as a rule near the water.

They avoid deserts, dry plains and moist tropical forests, staying in the margins of the latter.

Servals are mainly dim animals; the peak of their hunting activity falls on 4-5 a.m. and 10-11 p.m.

serval kittens buy Their main take is rodents, hares, as well as flamingos, pearl hens and other birds. Large ears and perfectly developed hearing help them to track down rodents and lizards and long extremities facilitate their moving in the high grass of savannas and help them to look over it.

Despite long strong legs, a serval cannot run after a take for a long time. His hunting method resembles the hunting tactics of the other representative from cat family – caracal. Serval hunts on the prowl in the high grass; if necessary it makes large vertical jumps (up to 3 m high), knocking down the birds that take off. Serval often digs rodents, breaking their holes, and climbs the trees for tree hyraxes. It can swim. Servals are very efficient hunters, in average 59% of their attacks finish with the capture of take.

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Servals have the isolated life way. The confrontations between them are rare. In case of danger they prefer hiding or escaping, making sudden jumps or sharply changing the direction of running, rarer they climb the trees.

The reproduction at servals does not coincide with a certain season of the year. However in the southern regions of the areas the cubs are born mostly in February-April. During estrus a female and a male are hunting and having a rest together for a few days.

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The pregnancy period is 65-75 days. The cubs are born in the old holes of ant-bears or in the nests among the grass; a brood in average has 2-3 kittens.

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The mother feeds them with milk within 5-7,5 months. When they are one year old, they leave their mother and find their own territory. Young females live with their mother longer than young males. The sexual maturity at serval occurs at the age of 18-24 months.

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Serval is a subject of business as its coat is used for fur goods; it is also valued in some districts of Africa because of its meat. It is also extirpated because of their attacks to poultry. As a result, the population of servals in the heavily populated areas of Africa has significantly decreased. Northern subspecies of serval is included into the 2nd group of IUCN Red List with the status "endangered species".

Servals are rather easily tamed and can be kept in bonds as domestic animals. Males of servals may mate with usual domestic cats, giving birth to hybrids Savanna. The following hybrids of servals with caracals are know – servicals and caravals.

Characteristic

Subspecies of serval:

 

Life environment - Africa

 

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