There are more than ten cat species in Africa. Besides the
famous cats such as the lion leopard, and cheetah we have other smaller species that inhibit the savannah and as well the wetter areas of the continent. The smaller species include the African wildcat, sand cat, golden cat, jungle cat, caracal and the serval cat that dominates them all.
The African serval cat is indigenous to the African continent it has been tamed and widely kept as an exotic breed in the western world. You can easily locate this breed in the wetter parts away from the north and south-west hotter parts of the continent.
Owing to human encroachment and interferences the servals live in the
open grasslands and plain of the sub-Saharan African well supplied with water
The servals are highly successful feline animals their wonderful hunting abilities make them outstanding among the top nocturnal
predators. Deriving their name from the Portuguese word Cervus meaning deer like a wolf the serval coating is tawny with black spots on it sometimes
merging to form stripes a similarity they share with the deer. Depending on
location, however, these feature can vary where for instance melanin comes into play and we have white servals as in the cases of captivity.
Some of the distinct features defining this species from the
rest of the breeds are: long legs and in this case longer in proportions to
body size as compared to other cats. It has longer ears not comparable to any
cat species rendering it a robust hearing capability that make it a master
hunter compared to other cat species. Despite the size, the servals can hunt
down bigger prey it averagely weighs around thirty to forty pounds in weight
and a size of around four feet including the tail. They are very similar in size to the caracal species the difference being that they are a bit more slender and longer.
They are characteristic of the pouncing technique when
hunting where for instance the cat leaps high in the air to around one to two
meters then lands on the prey with its forepaws stunning the prey in the
process it then kills the victim by biting its head. Owing to its highly
specialized physique the serval boasts a successful hunting rate of more than
50%. It takes a wide variety of prey including but not limited to birds,
insects, rodents, hares, fish, and frogs.
The hunting technique is usually locating their prey in the
night using echo-locating approach aided with their large ears. Then once they
have determined their target, they make a vertical pounce that sees them landing on their target they also specialize in hunting birds where they leap high from the ground creating a clapping movement to catch their prey by surprise.
The servals are solitary animals having minimal interaction
in large groups as is the case with many wild animals. They come together
during the mating season with their pregnancy lasting for two and a half to
around three months, at around seven months the young ones should be fully
independent and reach full maturity at around two years of age. When tamed and well taken care of some can survive up to the age of 19 years.
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