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Serval: A bit of a cat and a bit of a dog

author Lucy Byrne | Interesting information

Serval is an African feline with big round ears. Its tall and thin constitution make it look more like a dog with a cat’s head. It has long legs (probably the longest from all felines) adapted for movement in tall grass which allow it to jump high and move with extraordinary elegance, lightness and speed for short distances. Well, the name of its genus, Leptailurus, means “brilliantly agile”. The colour of its hair looks like cheetah's, it has cream colour and dark spots. However, also black servals exist.

They live north from Sahara, in steppes and forest steppes and mountain regions. They mainly hunt small mammals. However, they sometimes also eat amphibians and fish. Grass and fruits are also part of its diet. It usually hunts its prey in dim light or at night. It can trace them thanks to its ears and catch with a swift jump which can be as long as four metres. It also excels at jumping high, it can be up to 3 metres. On the contrary to other cats, its success rate in hunting is quite high, up to 50 %.

Even though servals are still wild animals, they often behave like “pets”. You can also see it in some Czech households. If it’s taken in young age, it becomes tame quite easily, but let’s be honest, it’s still a wild animal and can be dangerous, especially for small children.

If you decide to keep a serval, you would need a special permit from the veterinary service. It should ensure suitable living conditions for the animal and suitable security. Also be sure that taking care of a feline is very different from taking care of a domestic cat. It is an exotic cat with specific requirements and needs. Therefore it is appropriate to look up as much information as possible about keeping it.

Those of us who are satisfied with a more common furry friend can always go to a ZOO or a specialist breeding farm to see it.