Serval

He is a wild animal

Origin
Savannahs of Africa
Translation
Francis Vandersteen
The possession of this animal is not authorized Royal Decree establishing the list of mammals not kept for production purposes that may be kept (M.B. 24.08.2009)
The serval is a feline of the feline subfamily. It is the only species in the Leptailurus genus. DNA analysis has shown that the serval descends from the same ancestor as the lion, but that it constitutes a unique lineage with no close relations to other feline species, although it does have some points in common with the cheetah. However, other studies indicate that the serval is closely related to the African golden cat and the caracal.

Its length is around 85 to 112 cm, with a tail of 30 to 50 cm. It measures 54 to 66 cm at the withers. Females weigh 9 to 16 kg, males 12 to 26 kg.

It has long legs and a slender head; its ears are both long and wide in comparison with its head, and have the particularity of being rounded. The serval's ears and long neck enable it to hear and see above the tall grass of the savannah.

The appearance of its fur is variable: while most servals sport cheetah-like spots, some have only a few spots above the eyes and rings around the tail.

The serval is one of the felines capable of purring; the purr occurs on inhalation and exhalation. The serval can also spit, growl and meow.

The serval is a carnivore, feeding on other mammals such as rodents (like rats), rabbits, damans, dwarf antelopes (ourebis, dik-diks, steenbok), and birds, as well as insects and frogs. The serval preys little on large prey, with 90% of its prey weighing less than 200 grams.

The serval eats quickly, and if its prey is too large, it can sometimes obstruct its throat, forcing it to regurgitate. Small animals are eaten whole. With large animals, he eats the meat and small bones, but leaves the organs, skin, hooves or beak behind.

To hunt more effectively on the savannah, the serval has very long legs (the longest of all felines, relative to body size). It can run at speeds of up to 80 km/h. Its long legs and neck also enable it to peer over tall grass, while its large ears hear prey even when it's moving underground. When hunting, the serval can remain motionless for up to 15 minutes, eyes closed as it listens for nearby prey.

Once it has located its prey, usually at dusk, and often thanks to its sense of hearing, the serval leaps with dexterity. It can leap up to four meters in length and over a meter in height before striking its victim with its front legs. Its leaping ability enables it to catch birds in flight. Its jumps can sometimes reach three meters in height or six meters in length. The serval is a highly efficient hunter, succeeding in almost 50% of its attempts (with an overall success rate of 67% per night of hunting), whereas most felines only succeed in around one in ten attempted assaults.

Servals often play with their prey for several minutes before eating it. Most of the time, they fiercely defend their food against other predators trying to take it, with males often more aggressive than females.

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