Servals are elusive predators that belong to the small cat family, Felinae. (Big cats belong to Pantherinae.) These solitary carnivores occupy the sub-Saharan landscape. They are extremely successful hunters.

Play It By Ear

Servals are active day and night. Activity level depends upon the season and temperature. During the hottest part of the day, servals rest in the shade of trees or in tall grasses, preferring to hunt in the early morning hours or at night. Although they have excellent vision, an acute sense of hearing plays a vital role in their hunting abilities. Long and lean, they slink through the grass with their heads held high, ears erect and alert. Once servals detect prey, they gracefully leap to catch it. This technique is extremely successful, with 50 percent of attempts resulting in a kill. Servals can also hunt underground prey. Servals will disturb the tunnels of fossorial (burrowing) creatures, then, when the animal appears in order to make repairs, servals detect movement and fling the animal into the open to catch it.


grasslands, scrubs, marshes, and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa


Like all cats, servals are carnivorous, eating small mammals, birds, fish, and frogs.


  • Length: 3 feet
  • Height: 2 feet
  • Weight: 18–40 pounds