Table of contents:

Serial: Description Of The Breed, Character Of The Serval, Maintenance And Care At Home, Photo Of The Cat
Serial: Description Of The Breed, Character Of The Serval, Maintenance And Care At Home, Photo Of The Cat

Video: Serial: Description Of The Breed, Character Of The Serval, Maintenance And Care At Home, Photo Of The Cat

Video: Top 10 Domesticated Cat Breeds 2022, December

Serval: a wild cat that some consider domestic


Wild representatives of the feline family have long attracted people with their amazing grace, independence and mystery. But it is precisely the latter two qualities that make these strikingly beautiful predators virtually inaccessible for domestication. Perhaps we can say that all cats that were ready to become tame have already become like that, while others are impossible to tame. But it turns out that rare exceptions to this rule still occur. Almost the only cat that lives in the wild, but is very loyal to attempts to domesticate itself, is the serval.


  • 1 Wild cat

    • 1.1 Habitat and varieties

      1.1.1 Table: Known Serval Subspecies and Their Distribution Area

    • 1.2 Appearance

      • 1.2.1 Table: structural features, sizes and colors of bush cats, depending on the habitat
      • 1.2.2 Photo Gallery: Various Serval Colors
    • 1.3 Lifestyle
    • 1.4 Reproduction
    • 1.5 Video: Serval in the Wild
  • 2 Domestic cat

    • 2.1 Video: Sample Serval Misuse
    • 2.2 Where to buy and how much it costs
    • 2.3 Features of keeping a serval in captivity
    • 2.4 Choosing the right diet
    • 2.5 Health and longevity
    • 2.6 Video: Serval as a Pet
  • 3 Hybrids

    • 3.1 Savannah

      • 3.1.1 Table: the cost of Savannah kittens, depending on the degree of proximity to the Serval
      • 3.1.2 Video: Savannah is the world's most expensive domestic cat breed
    • 3.2 Usher
    • 3.3 Servical
    • 3.4 Caraval

      3.4.1 Video: Caraval

  • 4 Reviews of Serval owners: true and potential

wild cat

Another name for the serval is the bush cat (Leptailurus serval). The closest relatives of this medium-sized predator are the African golden cat, lynx and caracal, and is home to Africa. But first things first.

Habitat and species

Shrub cats have settled almost throughout the Black Continent, except for the hot Sahara, humid equatorial forests and the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost part of Africa. In the north of the mainland, bush cats are found, however, much less frequently than in the east and west. Most of the servals survived in Tanzania, especially in the Ngorongoro crater on the edge of the Serengeti savanna, where there are up to four individuals per 10 km².


Ngorongoro is a conservation area in Tanzania with an area of ​​more than 8 thousand square meters. km

Depending on the specific habitat, the appearance, color, behavior and even the size of the shrub cat gradually acquired certain characteristics. So, today science knows fourteen subspecies of the serval.

Table: known subspecies of the serval and the territory of their distribution

Latin name of the subspecies Territory of distribution
Leptailurus serval serval Almost all of southeastern Africa, from Tanzania to the Western Cape (Cape of Good Hope)
Leptailurus serval beirae A relatively small area in the southeast of Africa, the territory of the state of Mozambique
Leptailurus serval brachyura Western Africa, Savannah bordering the Sahara, Ethiopia
Leptailurus serval constantina (Barbary Serval) Northern regions of Africa
Leptailurus serval togoensis A small area in northeastern Africa, the territory of the states of Benin and Togo
Leptailurus serval hamiltoni Southern Africa, the eastern part of the region located between the rivers Vaal and Limpopo
Leptailurus serval robertsi Southern Africa, western part of the region located between the rivers Vaal and Limpopo
Leptailurus serval hindeio Eastern Africa, Tanzania
Leptailurus serval ingridi South Africa, territories bordering South Africa (Botswana, Zimbawbwe, Namibia)
Leptailurus serval mababiensis Small plot in southern Africa, northern regions of Botswana
Leptailurus serval kempi Central Africa, territory of Uganda
Leptailurus serval kivuensis Central Africa, territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Leptailurus serval liposticta Southwest Africa, northern regions of Angola
Leptailurus serval lonnbergi Southwest Africa, southern regions of Angola

More recently, there were three more varieties of the serval, but today they have completely disappeared. The Moroccan serval (Leptailurus serval constantina) is also on the verge of extinction.

The problem is that, despite its small size, a bushy cat has a color very similar to a leopard. Getting such a skin for the local natives is not too difficult and dangerous a task, in any case, it is much easier than hunting a real leopard. Then such trophies are sold to naive tourists under the guise of the skins of larger predators, and the meat is used as food.

African natives on the hunt
African natives on the hunt

Serval is easier to kill than leopard

An important role in the reduction of the serval population was the fact that African farmers purposefully exterminate these predators, although not a single case of serval attacks on domestic animals has been recorded.

Finally, indigenous tribes use some of the body parts of spotted cats for various rituals, as well as for healing.

Today, all servals are included in the list of species that are or may become endangered, therefore trade and hunting for them must be strictly regulated (Appendix No. 2 to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, signed in 1973 year in Washington). And Leptailurus serval constantina is listed in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Like all representatives of the cat family, servals are very slender and graceful. But in their structure there is a certain disproportion: too long legs (the longest among all cats), a small head and very large ears.

Serval close-up
Serval close-up

Serval has very big ears

This physique is due to the need to raise a small body above the tall grass of the African savannah and be able to catch any rustle during a night hunt, without giving out at the same time.

Serval in the grass
Serval in the grass

Serval needs long legs to rise above tall grass

Average serval sizes:

  • shoulder height: 40-65 cm;
  • body length excluding tail: 80-90 cm;
  • tail length: 30-45 cm;
  • weight: 8-18 kg.

These parameters can vary greatly depending on the species and habitat. The same goes for color. By the color of the fur coat, the bush cat is similar to a leopard or a cheetah - the same bizarre dark spots on a gray-yellow background. The lower part of the body, muzzle and chest of the serval are lighter, the outer part of the ears is black with yellow or white transverse stripes.

Full length serval
Full length serval

Serval has the longest legs of any feline

Conventionally, all varieties of servals can be divided into three large groups, highlighting some common features for each.

Table: structural features, sizes and colors of bush cats, depending on the habitat

Habitat Structure Dimensions Color features
Forest subspecies (previously distinguished as a separate species - servalines, or serval cats) More squat Quite large, weighing up to 18 kg The main tone is darker, the spots are small
Steppe subspecies (live in savannas and sparsely wooded areas) Long-legged Small, weight no more than 8 kg Large spots on a light background
Servals living in the mountains (Aberdare National Park, Kenya, Kilimanjaro, Pare Mountains, Mkomazi Nature Reserve) Long-legged Sizes are similar to steppe subspecies Very dark, up to half of the population is black (melanism in this area has shown itself as a more viable trait)

The endangered Moroccan serval is considered the largest species of shrub cat, the weight of this animal can reach 25 kg.

The differences mentioned are very conditional, and the line between them is not very clear. So, recently, black servals have been seen in the Serengeti savannah, away from the mountain ranges, in some animals (Ethiopia, Togo, Guinea), contrary to the described rule, the main tone of the coat is light, and the spots are small, in others (Angola, Uganda), on the contrary, the tone is dark, and the spots are large. Finally, albinos are sometimes born in the Serval family, with snow-white wool with silver-gray spots. However, such individuals do not survive in the wild.

Photo gallery: different colors of the serval

black serval
black serval

It used to be that black servals were found exclusively in mountainous areas.

white serval
white serval

White servals can only be found in captivity

steppe serval
steppe serval

The steppe servals have lighter hair and larger spots.

forest serval
forest serval

Forest servals have dark hair with small spots.


Servals settle near water in open areas. For the long legs of a shrub cat, tall grass and bushes are much more suitable than dense thickets of the jungle, hence, in fact, the very name of the animal. Even the forest serval subspecies limit their range to the edge of the forest without going deeper into the thicket. However, a small predator cannot survive in an arid desert either.

Servals hunt in the dark, but not in the dead of night, but after sunset or before dawn. A wild cat's diet consists mainly of small game:

  • small herbivorous animals (rodents, fatty animals, hares);
  • lizards, frogs;
  • birds (guinea fowl, flamingos, etc.).
Serval with a mouse in its teeth
Serval with a mouse in its teeth

Small rodents are often hunted by the serval

Occasionally a gape antelope can also become a victim of a predator.

All organs and receptors of the serval are perfectly tuned for different types of hunting: long legs allow you to look over tall grass, the color hides a small body in its thickets, huge ears, like locators, detect even a slight rustle emitted by a mouse underground, and excellent night vision captures the slightest traffic. Using such an arsenal of possibilities, a bushy cat can easily:

  • silently sneaks up on the prey and overtakes it with a lightning throw;
  • having frightened away birds of prey, it beats it "flying in", for which it can make dizzying vertical jumps (according to some sources, to a height of up to three meters);
  • digs holes, catching rodents hiding in them;
  • climbs trees in search of fatties;
  • overcomes water obstacles by swimming (bush cats are rarely engaged in fishing, but amphibians and waterfowl are often hunted by these predators).
Jumping Serval
Jumping Serval

Servals are great jumpers

Unlike cheetahs, servals cannot chase their prey for long. Their long legs allow them to reach speeds of up to 80 km / h, however, like lions and caracals, these cats rely on only a few powerful jumps, which is why it is important for them to sneak up on prey as close as possible.

Serval runs
Serval runs

Servals cannot chase prey for long

But the hunting productivity of a serval is much higher than that of a lion: on average, six out of ten attacks of a bush cat are successful, while in the king of animals this figure is almost two times lower.

Servals are shy and careful. Aggression and interspecific fights are not peculiar to these predators, they try not to get caught in the eyes of people, and they prefer to escape from potential danger by climbing trees, hiding in tall grass, or, in the absence of suitable shelter, to run away, changing direction and confusing tracks.

Fight between the servals
Fight between the servals

Servals rarely enter open confrontation.

Perhaps it was this character trait that secured the fame of a cat for the serval, which can be kept in the house without any fear.

Nevertheless, the shyness of a bush cat should not be exaggerated. Each individual (and servals are solitary animals) has its own territory, the boundaries of which, as expected, are designated by appropriate marks - traces of saliva and urine, left by the "owner" on stones and trees. Moreover, if it is enough for the female to consolidate her dominance in a relatively small area of ​​2-9 km², then the male's range can extend for 40 or even 70 km², and if necessary, the animal will defend its territory from uninvited guests.

Serval bared its fangs
Serval bared its fangs

Serval should not be considered a cowardly animal.


Servals breed regardless of the season, although most often the mating season falls on December-February (with a pregnancy that lasts 65-75 days, the cubs in this case are born by the end of winter - mid-spring). The pair develops only for a short period of estrus, during which time the animals are constantly together. Usually the range of a male borders or intersects with the territory of several females, so finding a “bride” by smell for a wild cat is not difficult. After the onset of pregnancy, the male leaves the female and does not take further participation in the fate of the offspring.

Serval pair
Serval pair

Servals mate only for a short period of mating.

The cat equips itself a nest in the grass or uses a ready-made aardvark burrow for this purpose. The number of babies in a litter is usually 2-3 individuals. Up to five to seven months, kittens feed on mother's milk, then gradually learn to hunt independently, so that by about a year old (boys a little earlier, girls later) leave the nest and find their own territory for life and hunting.

serval kittens
serval kittens

Usually there are from two to three kittens in a serval litter

At the age of one and a half to two years, young servals themselves begin to select a pair for themselves and acquire offspring.

Video: Serval in the Wild

Domestic cat

They say that bush cats, having fallen into captivity at a young age, easily endure such drastic changes in their lives and quickly become tame. Perhaps this is the case, however, the procedure for domestication of a wild animal should still be entrusted to professionals. As a pet, you can only keep those servals that were born in a nursery, and not in the wild. It is even better that even the parents of such kittens do not know the will. The more generations separate your pet from its wild ancestor, the better.

serval kittens in the apartment
serval kittens in the apartment

Home Serval Must Be Born At Home

In addition, one should distinguish between open-air and domestic bush cats: the animal contained in the cage is not tame.

serval in the aviary
serval in the aviary

A cat kept in such conditions is not domestic

In any case, before talking about the wonderful character, affectionateness and learning ability of servals, I would like to emphasize: they can be considered domestic cats very conditionally!

When breeding breeding animals, any manifestations of aggression lead to the ruthless exclusion of the cat from breeding programs and, despite this, I personally had to face a situation when a domestic cat, for no reason at all, began to rush at people. In addition, a similar story happened in the family of my friend. I can say with full responsibility: five kilograms of rage, which uses claws, teeth and all muscle strength, cannot be stopped with bare hands! It has nothing to do with the kitty who slightly scratched your hand in the heat of the game.

serval with child
serval with child

At home, the serval cannot always get away from communication.

Serval, no matter how affectionate, tame and understandable it may seem, is several times stronger than any domestic cat. Think about this before believing the breeders' stories that bush cats are not aggressive and never attack humans in nature. There, at home, the animal can always get away from danger, but if it cannot hide from the persistent harassment of your child, no one can guarantee that the forced defense will not turn into an attack.

Serval attacks
Serval attacks

Serval has every opportunity to protect himself

The stories of serval owners, by the way, also confirm: this cat is far from as simple as the breeders are trying to imagine. In any case, when deciding to purchase such a pet, one should take into account, let's say, the specifics of the situation. The video I found on the Web, where the hostess joyfully provokes the serval to rush on her head, is the clearest example of what should not be allowed under any circumstances!

Video: Sample Serval Misuse

A poem by S. Marshak is involuntarily recalled:

Forewarned is forearmed. Having learned to see in the serval not a plush toy, but yesterday's wild animal, and to respect this quality in it, it remains only to clarify some practical points related to the acquisition and maintenance of such a pet.

Where to buy and how much does it cost

Fortunately, neither Africa nor America, where the fashion for wild domestic cats came from, does not need to go for the serval. In Russia and Ukraine there are nurseries where you can buy serval, caracal, as well as their hybrids, but Belarus is a little behind in this regard. Germany has proven itself in the ability to socially adapt servals, special methods have been developed there and even various training courses are organized.

serval on a leash
serval on a leash

There are special techniques for teaching servals

Having decided to buy a serval, you should collect information about the selected cattery, check if it has registration documents, talk to the staff, see what conditions kittens and their parents are kept in. The animal sold, in addition to the veterinary passport, must have a CITES certificate of origin (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

It is better to take a young animal into the house, not older than five months. However, the statement that the smaller the kitten, the more attached it will be to the new family, is incorrect. Cats, unlike dogs, must receive the necessary skills from their mother, and if the kitten and its parents are not kept in a cage (and this, unfortunately, is very common), but move freely around the house and eat from the hands of the owners, up to 2 It is better not to wean them from mom for 3 months.

serval's kitten
serval's kitten

Don't take the little serval away from your mother too early

About the price. A real serval costs between seven and ten thousand US dollars. The author had to see a lot of ads on the network for the sale of a serval for several hundred dollars. Such prices have nothing to do with reality, the best that can be purchased for this money is a mongrel spotted Murzik.

Features of keeping a serval in captivity

Perhaps the main thing a serval needs to be happy is space. It is desirable that the animal be able to walk, but do not forget about the bush cat's ability to jump high: without a good fence, a freedom-loving predator can simply escape.

serval on polished floor
serval on polished floor

Servala will be cramped in a city apartment

The serval should always have water in direct accessibility, while the lid in the toilet bowl should be lowered, and the vases with flowers should be removed (otherwise the whole house will be flooded with water).

servals in the bathroom
servals in the bathroom

Servals are very fond of playing with water

It is also worth making sure that all surfaces that the pet can climb on are free from easily breakable objects.

It is imperative to sterilize the serval if the animal is not being used for breeding. The procedure should be carried out after puberty, but before the first estrus (for a girl), the optimal age is 7-8 months. Servals of both sexes mark territory with urine, and they do it much more often and more abundantly than ordinary domestic cats, so coexistence in a house with an unsterilized animal is a very dubious pleasure.

Let's generalize. The best place to keep a serval is a spacious private house with a fenced yard, where there are various shelters and a small pond, or a nearby park with a river, where a loving owner is ready to take his pet regularly for walks.

Serval drinks water
Serval drinks water

The proximity of the reservoir will be a real treat for the serval

Choosing the right diet

The main product in the serval's diet is raw meat (beef, poultry with bones) and offal. The animal should receive from 450 g to 1.3 kg of such food per day, and the pet should be fed once a day.

Serval eats meat
Serval eats meat

Serval's diet is based on raw meat

It is imperative to include special vitamin and calcium supplements in the diet of cats.

serval in the yard
serval in the yard

In the wild, the serval often feeds on small rodents.

In addition, it is useful for any wild cat to receive "live food" at least a couple of times a week, for which you can first hunt, and then eat it along with the skin, skin and feathers. For this purpose, you can use day old chicks purchased from the pet store of mice, lizards or frogs.

Serval eats game
Serval eats game

Serval sometimes needs to be fed live

If during a walk your pet digs up and swallows a bug, do not worry: in nature, insects make up up to 1% of the serval's diet.

Health and longevity

A cat that survives alone in the African savannah, by definition, cannot be in poor health. Therefore, all that is required of the owner of such an animal is not to overfeed his pet and not to feed him with what a predator could not eat in the wild (we are primarily talking about all kinds of smoked meats, sausages and other products containing chemical additives questionable properties).

Under natural conditions, servals live from 10 to 12 years, but good care, proper nutrition and annual vaccination can extend this period to 15 or even 20 years (this rule, however, applies to all cats). It is important, however, to keep in mind that only inactivated vaccines can be used for inoculating servals.

disposable syringe with medicine
disposable syringe with medicine

Serval can only be vaccinated with inactivated vaccines

Among the most common health problems of bush cats, perhaps only gastric disorders caused by excessive or improper nutrition should be named. Diarrhea for an animal is dangerous primarily due to dehydration, therefore, at the first sign of it, you should temporarily stop feeding your pet, but give him as much liquid as possible. If the problem is not resolved after 24 hours, the animal must be shown to the veterinarian.

Serval drinks water from a nipple
Serval drinks water from a nipple

In case of poisoning, the serval should not be fed, but given as much water as possible

Another feature to which serval owners need to pay attention is related to the disproportionately long legs of this predator. In the wild, cats living in open places, where there are no tall trees and other differences in relief, have such a structure of the limbs. Meanwhile, jumping from great heights, especially at an early age, when the bones of the skeleton have not yet formed, can lead to injuries to the limbs, so kittens and even adult servals must be protected from performing such acrobatic stunts.

bush cat jumping
bush cat jumping

At a young age, high jumps of the serval are fraught with limb injuries

Video: Serval as a pet


Serval hybrids should be discussed separately, since interbreeding is a rather rare phenomenon. In the wild, such a blatant violation of the established order cannot occur, but such "ethical subtleties" have not stopped a person for a long time: tigers are crossed with lions, cougars with leopards, and serval with caracals and domestic cats.


When crossing a lion and a tigress, a new animal was obtained - a liger

Animals obtained as a result of such experiments are not adapted to life in natural conditions, moreover, males are often born sterile, as if nature itself is getting in the way of ill-considered experiments. However, the cost of unusual predators, which have absorbed the features of different parents, is so high, and the public interest in them is so active that, most likely, such activities will only gain momentum in the coming years.


Savannah is a hybrid of a domestic cat and a serval (Félis x Leptailurus), over which American breeders fought since the 80s of the last century. Finally, in 2001, the breed received official recognition.

Savannah cat
Savannah cat

Savannah is a hybrid of a serval and a domestic cat

A little nuance. Savannah cannot breed "in itself": boys obtained as a result of crossing are infertile, and girls, crossing with domestic cats, give offspring in 3-4 generations in which the serval features are completely erased. That is why only the first generations of savannas are valued, and the value of these animals is unlikely to drop soon, because to maintain the breed, the presence of a wild African cat is always necessary.

Table: the cost of Savannah kittens depending on the degree of proximity to the Serval

Generation number Serval blood percentage Animal dimensions Cost in USD
Growth in ovens Weight Boys girls
Savannah F1 fifty% 42-55 cm 8-12 kg 8,000-11,000 10,000-15,000
Savannah F2 25% 40-45 cm 6-10 kg 4,500-6,000 4,500-7,000
Savannah F3 12.5% 38-40 cm 4-8 kg 2,000-3,000 3,000-3,400
Savannah F4 6.25% 35-40 cm 3-6 kg 1 200-2 200 1,500-2,500
Savannah F5 3.12% 35-40 cm 3-6 kg 950-4,000 950-3,000

Video: Savannah is the world's most expensive domestic cat breed


In 2006, Usher's cat was introduced to the world as a hybrid of a serval, an Asian leopard and a common domestic cat. However, two years later, after a scandal about the true origin of the new breed, it was expertly proved: Ashera and Savannah have absolutely identical roots, thus, Ashera's “author” simply gave the existing breed as the fruits of his own labors, attributing to his “creation”, in addition to the blood of the serval, a kinship with another wild cat, which increased the already exorbitant price of such a hybrid.


Asherah is a mythical breed, in reality it is a Savannah

The funny thing is that even after the loud disclosure of Usher, it continues to be successfully sold.


Servical, or Ser-Caracal, is a hybrid of a serval and a caracal, while a male bush cat and a female steppe lynx are crossed.


Servical inherited beautiful tassels from the ears from the caracal

From such a "tandem", which is very rarely successful, kittens are born that look like a serval, but have cute tassels on their ears, like a lynx.


Servical - a hybrid of Serval and Caracal


A caraval is a reverse modification of the crossing of a serval with a caracal: a female is taken from a shrub cat, and a male is taken from a steppe lynx. Children for the most part inherit maternal traits, that is, a hybrid, like a servical, is similar to a serval, but has a darker coat color (there are no tassels on the ears).

serval and caracal
serval and caracal

Servals are often crossed with caracals.

The caraval, along with Savannah and the serval itself, is often used as a pet.

Video: caraval

Serval owner reviews: true and potential

A home serval is definitely a status. It's nice when next to you on a leash is not some poodle and not even a frightening-looking alabai, but a real leopard in miniature! To heighten self-affirmation, you can casually tell the amazed neighbors how much money such a treasure cost and from which distant overseas nurseries it was delivered. But let's think about it: the animal, which we consider a pet, did not choose its fate. His element is the endless African savannah, the life of a solitary hermit and night hunting. Believing that such a beast is delighted at the prospect of bringing us slippers and gratitude for being scratched behind the ear, we are deceiving ourselves. There are many expensive things in the world that can emphasize our success, and animals that are ready to become our true friend. The wild cat better stay therewhere her ancestors lived for many centuries. This predator cannot be happy neither in a circus, nor in a zoo, nor in a city apartment, which means that keeping such a cat next to you, if safe, is certainly uncomfortable.

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