Serval Key Facts
* Unique to Africa
* Very large ears
* Pounces on prey
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.
The following professional organizations have well researched and accurate information on African Serval Cats:
- Conservation Status - IUCN Red List
- Detailed Account - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Focus on the Serval (Leptailurus serval) - Publication by D. Furstenburg 2009
- Species Overview - International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC)
- Fact File pdf - Arkive Wildscreen