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The Serval Cat

serval cats

serval cats

The serval cat is a wild cat native to Africa. It is rare in North Africa and the Sahel, but widespread in sub-Saharan countries except rainforest regions. It’s coat is yellowish-tan, with black spots, bands and stripes. The tail is ringed with black, and the underparts of the body are white or light tan. Individual servals can be identified by their unique features; diverse patterns of spots and stripes, nicks in their ears, and variations in color distinctive from the caracal. The serval cat has been observed in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest but is widely spread throughout Uganda. One can easily observe it in UWEC Zoo in Entebbe.

Servals are common on the savannas where there is plenty of water. They seem to prefer areas of bush, tall grass and dry reed beds near streams, but are found in high-altitude moorlands and bamboo thickets. Black servals occur in Kenya’s high country. They specialize in preying on small mammals, in particular rodents, with birds of secondary importance, followed by reptiles and arthropods, and they are notorious poultry raiders. They are quite successful hunters, catching an average of 50 percent of all prey hunted.

The serval is mainly nocturnal, but even in the daytime it can be difficult to see in tall grass. The serval hunts by sight and sound more than scent. With its acute hearing, a serval can locate prey that is moving underground. If hunting prey above ground, the serval raises its head above the grass and listens for movement. Once a sound is located, the serval stealthily approaches, then leaps and pounces. It often plays with its catch before eating it.

serval cat


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