Serval (Leptailurus serval)
Leptailurus serval in Serengenti, Tanzania
By Self (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

The Serval cat (Leptailurus serval) is a medium sized, spotted African wild cat, often confused with leopards and cheetahs due to their similar coat patterns and coloring. With its long legs and large ears the Serval is well adapted to hunt small rodents in grassland and wetlands; habitats which are under increasing threats due to loss and degradation. The Serval cat is well known in America as one of the exotic felines bred for the pet market.

Caracal Lineage

1. Caracal (Caracal caracal)

2. Serval (Leptailurus serval)

3. African Golden Cat (Caracal aurata)

Key Facts about Servals

~ Longest legs of all wild cats ~

~ Largest ears of all wild cats ~

~ Endemic to Africa ~

Serval (Leptailurus serval) Classification

Serval cats are classed in their own genus Leptailurus and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Serval species is:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)

Genus: Leptailurus

Species: Leptailurus serval (Serval)


L.s. serval

L.s. constantia

L.s. lipostictus


The scientific name for the Serval cat is Leptailurus serval which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Serval stalking prey in long grass by Richard Packwood

Serval (Leptailurus serval) Subspecies

Historically up to eighteen subspecies of Serval have been described, however the last Felidae taxonomic revision in 2017 proposed only three subspecies, pending further research:

1. Leptailurus serval serval - Southern Africa

2. Leptailurus serval constantina - West and Central Africa

3. Leptailurus serval lipostictus - East Africa

Serval Conservation and Research

The Serval conservation status is Least Concern (LC) globally as the cat is widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa. However it is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) for the Mediterranean region due to regional extinctions in North Africa.

The following organizations are involved in wildlife conservation in Africa, and their efforts in securing wild habitat will help ensure the Serval cat's continued existence:

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) - Serval

African Parks - Saving Wildlife

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - Africa projects

Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) - Grasslands project

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!

Eight week old Serval kittens by Terry Whittaker

Young Serval cats playing together by M&D Denis-Huot

Serval Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Serval cats: