The serval (Felis serval) is a wild cat that lives in grasslands (savannas), rain forests, woodlands, plains, forests, deserts, and shrubby areas. This solitary cat is found in much of Africa, from sub-Saharan Africa to the south-east. Servals are a threatened species; they have disappeared from many areas due to a loss of habitat and over-hunting (they are hunted for their fur and meat).

Servals are fast runners over short distances and are good leapers and climbers. This cat purrs, growls, and has a high-pitched cry. Servals live about 13 years in captivity.

Anatomy: These graceful, medium-sized cats grow to be about 40 inches (1 m) long; the tail is 1 foot (30 cm) long. This slender cat is about 20 inches (50 cm) tall at the shoulder (the serval's legs are very long). Adult females weigh about 30 pounds (13 kg). Males are slightly larger than females with an average weight of 45 pounds ( 20 kg).

Adults have a pale yellow coat with black spots (and black bars on the shoulders and long neck). The tail is ringed in black and has a black tip. Kittens have coloring that is similar to adults (litters contain 2 to 3 kittens).

Diet: These large cats are carnivores (meat-eaters). They hunt a wide range of birds, reptiles (like lizards), and mammals (including rodents, hares and small antelopes). Some subspecies of servals hunt mostly at night (they are mostly nocturnal, but they are also seen during the day). Other subspecies are crepuscular (hunting at dawn and dusk). The hearing of the serval is very, very good, and is used to locate prey.

Classification: Kingdom Animalia (animals), Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Carnivora, Family Felidae (cats), Genus Felis (Leptailurus), Species F. serval.

Serval (Felis serval)
This close up of a Serval baby shows the trademark "Cheetah tears" under the eyes
Note the banding, known as ocelli, on the back of the ears
The Serval has large ears, cheetah tears under almond shaped eyes, a black nose, and a beautiful smile
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