Samia


Leptailurus Serval/ServalLeast Concern

Interesting facts about Samia

  • Servals have the largest ears of any cat relative to body size.
  • Their incredible hearing allows them to hear and locate a rodent’s ultrasonic squeaks.
  • Servals have the power and agility to jump up to two metres into the air. They can be found in a range of grassland, woodland and marshland.
  • To communicate with other servals they have a high-pitched cry. The main threats to servals come from larger predators and humans.

The serval is a very distinctive member of the small cat family.


Samia came to us at just under a year old from Parc des felins; the zoo she was born. She is a very sweet natured girl and joined the long list of WHF, The Big Cat Sanctuary’s successful first time mums in 2012 when she gave birth to two kittens, Jua and M’wezi.  (Jua remains on site with us, M’wezi has moved to another collection).

The serval is a very distinctive member of the small cat family; very slender and long-legged with large oval ears. The colouration of the coat and spotted pattern often leads to their pelts being smuggled into the fur trade and passed off as cheetah. Typically yellowish gold in colour, they can be found to be both melanistic (black) and leucistic (white). However, white individuals have never been noted in the wild and have only occurred in captive populations.

Native species of Africa.


Their closest relatives within the small cat family are the Caracal and African golden cat, who are also native species of Africa. The serval has specific habitat requirements so can end up being locally restricted to small ranges within Africa, as they tend to live near watercourses.

The morphology of a serval leads it to be a specialized rodent catcher although they can be seen to take hares, flamingo and young antelope. Extremely disproportionate ears allow them to have much greater accuracy in pinpointing burrowing prey. Long legs allow the cat to have a greater field of vision, as well as being used to give a stunning blow to prey. The serval is a remarkable jumper, capable of reaching heights of up to 9 feet in one vertical jump, which can be used to catch birds in mid-flight.

They are one of the few cats within Africa that aren’t routinely persecuted by locals, as they avoid livestock and prove no threat to farmers. A bigger threat to the serval is that of the exotic pet trade and they are now being hybridized with domestic cats to produce the domestic breed, the Savannah.

IUCN Red List Category Least Concern(LC)

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