Serval (Leptailurus serval)
Serval Hissing by Gerald Hinde from the book Cats of Africa

Serval Key Facts

*   Unique to Africa

*  Very large ears

*   Pounces on prey

Serval Facts

Three unique aspects about the African Serval cat are 1. endemic to Africa, 2. largest ears of all wild cats and 3. pouncing hunting technique. Here are some more facts about Servals:


Leptailurus serval


African Serval, Serval, Serval Cat


The name Serval is derived from a Portuguese word meaning "deerlike wolf" (cervus = deer). In Africa it is commonly referred to as a 'bush cat', and in Afrikaans (South Africa) it is known as a "tierboskat" which means 'tiger bush cat'.


Least Concern (Global). Note that within each country the conservation status can differ to the global status.

Serval have a combination of spots and stripes on their coats, and they have very large rounded ears for picking up the sounds of prey in long grasses.

Serval only occur in Africa, inhabiting the wetter areas and are absent from the deserts in the north and south west.


The Serval has a very characteristic pouncing technique when hunting rodents. It leaps high into the air and then lands on the prey with its forepaws, stunning the prey in the process (see video).

Serval cats produce litters all through the year with births peaking in the wet season. Gestation is between 67 to 75 days and on average two to three kittens are born on in a litter.


The Serval was the symbol of the Italian Tomasi family, princes of the island of Lampedusa. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, wrote the famous Italian novel 'IlGattopardo'. Despite being known as 'The Leopard' in English, the Italian title actually refers to a Serval. The Serval's North African range is near Lampedusa.

Further Information

The following professional organizations have well researched and accurate information on African Serval Cats:

South Africa Travel Guide
Travel Guide South Africa 2023

Namibia Travel Guide 2022
Travel Guide Namibia 2022

Botswana Travel Guide
Travel Guide Botswana 2022/23