The adult male Serval can stand up to 20 inches at the shoulders and weigh around 40 pounds. This is a secretive medium-sized cat, constantly searching for vulnerable prey. Although not extremely powerful, the Serval relies on a blend of its quickness and body weight to accomplish its goals. Servals are playful, inquisitive, intelligent, and affectionate although sometimes aloof. Raised properly, they can be very affectionate and sociable. The more attention and affection you give your cat, the closer your bond will be. Contact the cat breeders below for your next family friend.
Serval Kittens for Sale
The Serval Leptailurus Serval, known in Afrikaans as Tierboskat or "tiger-forest-cat," is an African wild cat. DNA studies have shown that the Serval is closely related to the African Golden Cat and the Caracal. Serval cats are classified as one of the largest of small exotic cats. Although they are true wild cats, they have been officially bred in captivity for more than thirty years now. However, the domestication of the Serval cat goes much further back in history, since it has been documented that the Egyptians kept Serval cats as mousers, which is definitely one of their most highly-developed skills— and the Serval cat appears in ancient Egyptian paintings, murals, and sculptures.
The Serval is a medium-sized wild cat, measuring 23 to 36 inches in head-body length, with a relatively short tail (7.9 to 15 inches), and a shoulder height of about 21 to 26 inches. It is a strong yet slender animal with long legs. The head is small in relation to its body, and the tall, oval ears are set close together. The pattern of the fur is variable. Usually, the Serval is boldly spotted black on tawny, with two or four stripes running from the top of the head down the neck and back, transitioning into spots.
The "Servaline" form has much smaller, freckled spots, and was once thought to be a separate species, though it is not. The backs of the ears are black with a distinctive white bar. In addition, "melanistic" Servals are quite common in some areas, looking similar in appearance to the black panther (a.k.a., the melanistic leopard).
White Servals have never been documented in the wild and only four have ever been documented in captivity. One was born and died at the age of two weeks in Canada in the early 1990s. The other three, all males, were born at "Wildlife on Easy Street," a non-profit corporation dedicated to the case of exotic cats and other endangered animals, in 1997 and 1999.
Servals have the longest legs of any cat relative to their body size. Most of the length is due to the greatly elongated metatarsal bones in the feet. The toes are also elongated, and unusually mobile, which helps the animal to capture partially concealed prey. Another distinctive feature of the Serval is the presence of very large ears and large auditory equipment in the skull, indicating a particularly acute sense of hearing. Weight ranges from about fifteen to twenty-six pounds in females, and from twenty to forty pounds in males.
The Serval is native to Africa, where it is widely distributed south of the Sahara. It was once also found in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. Its main wild habitat is the savanna (a grassy plain in tropical and subtropical regions, with few trees), although melanistic Servals are more usually found in mountainous areas at elevations up to 9,800 ft. The Serval needs water within its territory, so it does not live in semi-deserts or dry steppes. Servals also avoid dense equatorial jungles, although they may be found along forest fringes. They are able to climb and swim, but seldom do so.
Like many cats, Servals are able to purr. The Serval also has a high-pitched chirp, and can hiss, cackle, growl, grunt, and meow. Threat displays between hostile wild Servals are often highly exaggerated, with the animals flattening their ears and arching their backs, baring their teeth, and nodding their heads vigorously. In direct confrontation, they lash out with their long forelegs and make sharp barking sounds and loud growls.
The greatest source of information on raising Serval cats as pets would be an actual breeder/owner of a Serval cattery.
A breeder with great knowledge and information is John K. Babb, the owner of Valley Stables and Exotic Servals in Berea, Kentucky. John K. Babb is wholeheartedly enthusiastic about his Serval cats, as are many satisfied buyers of his kittens, who have written fascinating and often very funny testimonials about their own Servals. His website, which follows this article, contains a fantastic amount of information about the Serval, which is used with John's express permission.
"The Serval makes a distinctive sound when it calls out that can be described as a 'HOW-HOWHOW!' This sound is more like the loud chirp of a large bird than a sound we would normally associate with any kind of cat. They also pant much like dogs – very unlike most felines. When aggravated, they can become quite 'hissy.'
"My Servals have made noises much like a repetitive grunt when they get overly excited playing with a weed or something I am moving about on the ground," Babb adds. If they feel they are cornered or in danger, they certainly have a growl, just as does the lion or the common domestic house cat.
"However unusual a Serval is to most people, it is still a cat. Each has its own likes and dislikes and its own individual personality. If bottle-raised, some kittens come very close to behaving like common 'lap cats,' while others, with the same upbringing, don't care much for being held for any length of time.
"Servals have been kept as pets in the past in Africa as well as many other parts of the world for thousands of years, just as they have been hunted for their pelts during this same time period. In Egyptian history, Servals were kept not just as terrific mousers—they were also kept to protect a dwelling from the evils of night until the Egyptian sun god, Rajh, arose in the morning light.
"When exactly the breeding in the U.S. of the Serval began and the keeping of them as pets in the U.S. began, I haven't been able to determine with any certainty. But I do know it was somewhere around the turn of the century. As the fur trade boomed in the 1920s and 30s, I am sure people took mercy on some and made pets of them. 'East African Mammals, An Atlas of Evolution in Africa,' published by Academic Press, London, mentions that the young will make handsome pets if reared from infancy. It also mentions Servals in captivity living to be nineteen years old, and the females staying fertile until the age of fourteen. Much of the information in this text comes from studies done on Servals kept in captivity as early as 1951.
"I encourage everyone who owns a Serval to go to the library or the Internet and take in as much information as they can on the activities of the African Serval Cat in the wild. This can only help one's understanding of their instinctual behaviors, thus enhancing the relationship between the cat and human when put in the close relationship we refer to as "Pet" (Serval) and "Owner" (human).
"There is no federal law to prohibit or restrict in any way the private ownership of a Serval as a pet. They are not an endangered species, with the exception of one sub-species known as the 'Barbary Serval,' however I have never known of one of these to even be within the U.S." (Note: in spite of there being no federal law prohibiting Serval ownership, prospective owners should be sure to check their own state and local ordinances before buying one.)
"In my opinion, the Serval is the 'top of the line' when it comes to choosing among the exotic cats that are commonly kept in captivity. They are only a little more than twice the size of a common domestic breed, which makes keeping them as a "pet" a practical matter. Yet one couldn't ask for a more unusual and exotic-looking animal. They are much more adaptable to new environments and people than many of the other exotic felines and breed very well in captivity.
"They are extremely playful with each other as well as with humans with whom they are familiar. If a Serval is raised from infancy with a great deal of attention and loving care, it has been my personal experience that, although they are still a wild creature and not by definition domesticated, they can become comparatively as tame and friendly as many species of animals which are termed 'domestic.' Their feeding requirements and health care are similar in cost to that of the domestic cat, which once again promotes the Serval as the 'top of the line' exotic cat to be kept as a pet or as a propagator of its species."
For much more detailed information, and to inquire about Serval kittens for sale, please see the listings on this page as well as Valley Stables and Exotic Servals.
With Thanks To:
Valley Stables and Exotic Servals