Serval cat History

The Serval cat is a strong yet lean animal native to the savannah grasslands of Africa, south of the Sahara. The name serval comes from a Portuguese word meaning "wolf deer." Other nicknames for the serval are "bush cat" and "giraffe cat".The Serval was once also found in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. Servals have dwindled in numbers due to human population taking over their habitat and also because of hunters and poachers. Their pelts are a high dollar commodity in several countries. It takes alot of pelts to make a coat. The serval populations is also harmed by habitat loss and global climate change. And if this is not enough the serval is also preyed upon by the leopard and other large cats, especially the kittens. The Serval kittens become easy prey because the mother leaves the kittens alone for most of the day while she is out hunting.

Servals do not live in dessert's and jungles but prefer tall grassy areas with large watercourses within their territory. Unlike many other cat species, the Serval loves to climb, leap, and play in water. It vocalizes using shrill cries, barks, chirps and mews, but the serval can growl and purr too. Servals are active durring the coolest part of the day (dawn and twlight) and avoid the heat of the day, but they also hunt at night when needed. The cats often share their habitat with Caracals, and Cheetahs, therefore they have to compete with them for prey. Servals resemble the Cheetah, but one difference is their ears. They are large, oval and set closer together. Their large ears and auditory bullae in the skull, indicate a particularly acute sense of hearing. They are medium sized, with a long neck and very long legs. Their legs are long due to the elongated metatarsal bones in the feet. Their toes are also elongated and very mobile. This mobility helps the serval capture their prey and fight off enemies by punching with a very strong blow. Servals have the longest legs of any cat and this makes them one of the tallest cats. The Serval's main hunting strategy is to wait in the tall grass, while using their huge ears to listen for approaching prey. When the prey gets close enough they jump out and pounce on it. The Serval takes a giant leap up into the air and then forces its body weight down upon the victim, trapping it beneath the front paws until the cat can deliver a deadly bite to the neck. This method is efficient and quick. Servals do not run down their prey like the Cheetah's do. Standing on its hind legs, a serval can jump more than 13 feet straight up to grab birds right out of the sky. The serval is well equipped to be the most successful predator of all the cats. Other wild cats are successful in just one of every five or six attempts to kill prey, servals make a kill in about half of all tries. Each generation becomes smarter and smarter. You will suddenly realize this, when your Serval has suddenly learned to open doors and windows.

Servals do not have a specific breeding season, and even though a male's home range may overlap those of several females, they live separately most of the year. The female serval raises her kittens alone, usually 1-5 kittens to a litter. They live in a den made of tall, thick grass, and the mother leaves her kittens most of the day while she hunts for food, returning to stay with them at night. She accepts the presence of her female kittens longer than that of male kittens. Once the boys can hunt for themselves they are no longer welcome at home. Daughters usually stay with their mother until they are about two years old. Servals have been kept as pets for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians worshipped the serval for its power and grace. The Egyptians used them to pull grain carts and Servals were important to them because of their skill at catching and killing rodents, which carried diseases and contaminated their food supplies.

Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Leptailurus
Species: serval
Body length: 2.3 to 3.3 feet (70 to 100 centimeters)
Shoulder height: 1.5 to 2 feet (45 to 60 centimeters)
Weight: 19 to 50 pounds (9 to 18 kilograms)
(The adult males can wieght twice what the female wieghs)
Life span: up to 19 years in the wild and up to 30 in domestic
Gestation: 70 to 79 days
Number of young at birth: 1 to 5
Weight at birth: 8 to 9 ounces (227 to 255 grams)
Age of maturity: 18 to 24 months for female and 24 to 36 m