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 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 through loss and degradation. The Serval cat is well known in America as one of the exotic felines bred for the pet market.

Key Facts about Servals

~ Longest legs of all wild cats ~

~ Largest ears of all wild cats ~

~ Endemic to Africa ~

Caracal Lineage

1. Caracal (Caracal caracal)

2. Serval (Leptailurus serval)

3. African Golden Cat (Caracal aurata)

Serval (Leptailurus serval) Classification

The taxonomy or scientific classification of the Serval species (Leptailurus serval) is as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Genus: Leptailurus

Species: Leptailurus serval (Serval)

Serval stalking prey in long grass by Richard Packwood

Serval (Leptailurus serval) Subspecies

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.

Historically up to eighteen subspecies of serval have been described, however the current Felidae taxonomic revision proposes 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 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:

Eight week old Serval kittens by Terry Whittaker

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

Serval Facts and Information

The following links will take you to websites with well researched and authoritative information on Serval cats: