How high can you jump?

A servals long legs, allows it to spy on its prey over the top of long grass, and both their spots and stripes provide camouflage in the dappled shade of long grasses.

Servals can catch birds by flushing them from tall grass. They can leap up to 2 meters in the air to bring them down. 

All the better to hear prey with!

One of the first things you may notice about a serval is their large ears. Servals have extremely sensitive hearing. They can even hear a rodent in its burrow underground! But they are not only on the lookout for rodents like mice and rats. Servals will also occasionally hunt birds, young antelope, lizards and insects.

Servals are mostly solitary. They mark their territories by spraying urine and scratching the bark of trees. They will also communicate to other servals with shrill cries, growls and purrs.

At the Zoo

Masters of hide and seek

There are two servals at Auckland Zoo:

  • Shani, a female, was born at Boise Zoo, USA and arrived at Auckland Zoo in 2014.
  • Toure, a male, was born at Singapore Zoo and arrived at Auckland Zoo in 2022.

This pair can often be difficult to spot in their habitat. Take your time to look for them. Their habitat has lots of long grasses and bushes to hide in, just like in the wild. Our keepers also provide the servals with a variety of small dens for shelter. Like many cats, servals spend a lot of time resting. This pair is most active at early morning and late afternoon. If they are not active, look in the sunny sheltered areas of the habitat. Remember they have great camouflage, so you have to keep your eyes peeled.

In the wild

Origin: Morocco, Algeria and most of Africa south of the Sahara Desert

Habitat: Freshwater wetland habitats with tall grass. Densely vegetated banks provide ideal habitat for hunting prey.

Conservation status: Least concern (IUCN)

While there is a relatively low risk of extinction as a species overall, there are some areas where serval populations are more at risk. The biggest threat they face is wetland habitat loss and degradation, due to the abundance of suitable prey (rodents) in these habitats.

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Other African Species