The serval is a medium-sized cat, measuring 23 to 36 in in head-body length, with a relatively short, 7.9 to 18 inch tail, and a shoulder height of about 21 to 26 in. Weight ranges from about 15 to 26 lb. in females, and from 20 to 40 lb. in males on the average.
It is a strong yet slender cat, with long legs and a half length tail. Due to its leg length, it is relatively one of the tallest cats. 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 two or four 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.
The serval is nocturnal, and so hunts mostly at night, unless disturbed by human activity or the presence of larger nocturnal predators. Although the serval is specialized for catching rodents, it is an opportunistic predator whose diet also includes birds, hares, hyraxes, reptiles, insects, fish, and frogs.
As part of its adaptations for hunting in the savannahs, 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 50 miles per hour (50 mph), and has large ears with acute hearing. Its 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 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. It is able to leap up to 12 ft. horizontally from a stationary position, landing precisely on target with sufficient force to stun or kill its prey upon impact.
The serval is extremely intelligent, and demonstrate remarkable problem-solving ability, making it notorious for getting into mischief, as well as easily outwitting its prey, and eluding other predators. The serval may be in the feline class as the lion, tiger or cheetah, however their behavior is not the same. Among all the wild big cats, the serval is not a threat in a public setting. Their natural instinct is to hunt small prey and it is very, very rare to see a wild serval take prey larger than themselves, unlike the cousin cheetah who will.
- part of this information is provided by Wikipedia.org
The domesticated Serval is very different from the Wild Servals in Africa. Since the 1960's and even earlier, the first wild servals were brought into captivity in both the United States and Canada. Since then, they have been domesticated through breeding in captivity for many generations. They have been hand raised from baby cubs in loving homes side by side with other domestic animals like your dogs and cats. They are truly an extraordinary companion.
Domesticated Serval ownership is not for everyone. It does require a special, highly responsible, very accountable person to own one of these exotic animals. Once they bond with you, they are your unconditional friend for life.
In captivity, Serval's are awesome, being one of the most commonly kept African feline species. The servals do require a more specialized diet than a regular house cat. They are capable of litter box training as well as taught to walk on a leash like a dog. They have a fetish for the water and love playing in the bath tub or sink. Being of high intelligence, some have been able to get their own ice cubes out of the dispenser on the refrigerator door. Others have been taught to use the toilet instead of the litter box - now they are working on teaching them to flush when finished...
Before you judge these cats... you really should try and meet one. It will change your mind about domesticated Servals being dangerous animals.
F.Y.I. - This is not a new trend. The Serval has been domesticated for over 5000 years, the ancient Egyptians not only had these majestic cats as pets but they worshiped the serval for its grace and power. This is a highly intelligent animal and as a pet is very much dog like.
- information provided by our friends at www.domesticatedservals.com