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Serval (Leptailurus serval) Fact Sheet, 2010  

Last Updated: Dec 2, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Serval (Leptailurus serval) Fact Sheet, 2010

Image Credit:  WikiMedia Commons. Creative Commons

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Subfamily: Felinae

Genus: Leptailurus

Species: Leptailurus serval (Schreber, 1776)

Body Weight:
Male 9-18 kg (20-40 lb);
Female 9-12 kg (20-26 lb)

Body Length: 59-92 cm (23-36 in)

Tail Length: 20-38 cm (8-15 in)

Pelage: Pale yellow fur; solid black spots on sides; bars or bands on neck and shoulders; tail with black bands; tip black.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Range: Wide distribution, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa; small, isolated populations north of Sahara.

Habitat: Grasslands bordering rivers and lakes.

IUCN Status: Least Concern (2008)

CITES Appendix: Appendix II

Locomotion: Secures prey with fox-like, stiff-legged bouncing jumps, all four feet off ground at once. Can leap a span 4 m (13 ft). Climbs trees when chased.

Activity Cycle: Active dawn and dusk (crepuscular); also nocturnal. Inactive 40% of time in some locations; patterns vary with habitats.

Social Groups: Solitary.

Diet: Mainly eat small rodents; also consume frogs, crabs,small birds, snakes, lizards, shrews, and insects.

Predators: Hyenas and leopards.

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: 1-2 years

Gestation: c. 74 days

Litter Size: 1-3 most often; 5 very rarely

Birth weight: 250 g (c. 9 oz)

Age at Weaning: 4-5 months

Longevity: Survive to 10 years in the wild; 20 years in captivity.

Feature Facts: Very efficient predators; in a typical year a single serval captures around 4,000 rodents, 260 snakes, and 130 birds.

Society Press: San Diego Zoo Global currently cares for 12 serval at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.


About This Fact Sheet

© 2010 San Diego Zoo Global. Minor updates in April  2015.

How to cite: Serval (Leptailurus serval) Fact Sheet, 2010. c2010. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. (note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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