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The serval ( /ˈsɜrvəl/), Leptailurus serval or Caracal serval,[citation needed] known in Afrikaans as Tierboskat, "tiger-forest-cat", is a medium-sized African wild cat. DNA studies have shown that the serval is closely related to the African golden cat and the caracal.

It is a strong yet slender animal, with long legs and a fairly short tail. The head is small in relation to the body, and the tall, oval ears are set close together. The pattern of the fur is variable. Usually, the serval is boldly spotted black on tawny, with 2 or 4 stripes from the top of the head down the neck and back, transitioning into spots. The "servaline" form has much smaller, freckled spots, and was once thought to be separate species. The backs of the ears are black with a distinctive white bar. In addition, melanistic servals are quite common in some parts of the range, giving a similar appearance to the "black panther" (melanistic leopard).

Serval
Serval portrait
Serval

Range

Throughout central and southern africa with a small number in morrocco. Lives mainly in the savanah's but some may live in mountainus ranges.

Size

Height: 54-66 cm (21-26 inches)

Weight: 7-18 kgs (20-40 lbs)

Length: 59-92 cm (23-36 inches)

Diet

Mainly rodents but birds and hares may be eaten when available.

Weapons and Traits

Has sharp teeth and claws, can leap 12ft into the air, can swim and climb well, is very intelligent.

Battle Status

On hold will compete against the Red Fox

The serval is native to Africa, where it is widely distributed south of the Sahara. It was once also found in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria, but may have been extirpated from Algeria and only remains in Tunisia because of a reintroduction programme.

Its main habitat is the savanna, although melanistic individuals are more usually found in mountainous areas at elevations up to 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). The serval needs watercourses within its territory, so it does not live in semi-deserts or dry steppes. Servals also avoid dense equatorial jungles, although they may be found along forest fringes. They are able to climb and swim, but seldom do so.

As part of its adaptations for hunting in the savannas, the serval boasts long legs (the longest of all cats, relative to body size) for jumping, which also help it achieve a top speed of 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph),and large ears with acute hearing. The long legs and neck allow the serval to see over tall grasses, while its ears are used to detect prey, even those burrowing underground. Servals have been known to dig into burrows in search of underground prey, and to leap 2 to 3 metres (7 to 10 ft) into the air to grab birds in flight. While hunting, the serval may pause for up to 15 minutes at a time to listen with eyes closed. The Serval's pounce is a distinctive and precise vertical 'hop', which may be an adaptation for capturing flushed birds.They are able to leap up to 3.6 metres (12 ft) horizontally from a stationary position, landing precisely on target with sufficient force to stun or kill their prey upon impact. The serval is an efficient killer, catching prey on an average of 50% of attempts, compared to an average of 38% for leopards and 30% for lions.[

Servals are extremely intelligent, and demonstrate remarkable problem-solving ability, making them notorious for getting into mischief, as well as easily outwitting their prey, and eluding other predators. The serval will often play with its captured prey for several minutes, before consuming it. In most situations, servals will ferociously defend their food against attempted theft by others. Males can be more aggressive than females.

Like most cats, servals are solitary, nocturnal animals. They are known to travel as much as 3 to 4 kilometres (1.9 to 2.5 mi) each night in search of food. Females defend home ranges of 9.5 to 19.8 square kilometres (3.7 to 7.6 sq mi), depending on local prey availability, while males defend larger territories of 11.6 to 31.5 square kilometres (4.5 to 12.2 sq mi). They mark their territory by spraying urine onto prominent objects such as bushes, or, less frequently, by scraping fresh urine into the ground with their claws. Threat displays between hostile servals are often highly exaggerated, with the animals flattening their ears and arching their backs, baring their teeth, and nodding their heads vigorously. In direct confrontation, they lash out with their long forelegs and make sharp barking sounds and loud growls.

Its main habitat is the savanna, although melanistic individuals are more usually found in mountainous areas at elevations up to 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). The serval needs watercourses within its territory, so it does not live in semi-deserts or dry steppes. Servals also avoid dense equatorial jungles, although they may be found along forest fringes. They are able to climb and swim, but seldom do so.

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