Serval

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The serval, Leptailurus serval, is a medium-sized African wild cat. Modern molecular DNA analysis indicates that servals maintain their own unique lineage descending from the same Felid ancestor as the lion, and though the serval shares common traits with the cheetah, it is the cheetah which is thought to have descended from ancient servals. Similar DNA studies have shown the African golden cat and the caracal are closely related to the serval. It is a strong yet slender animal, with long legs and a fairly short tail. The head is small in relation to the 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 2 or 4 stripes 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 separate species. The backs of the ears are black with a distinctive white bar. In addition, melanistic servals are quite common in some parts of the range, giving a similar appearance to the "black panther" (melanistic leopard). White servals have never been documented in the wild and only four have been documented in captivity. One was born and died at the age of 2 weeks in Canada in the early 1990s. The other three, all males, were born at Wildlife on Easy Street in 1997 and 1999. Servals have the longest legs of any cat, relative to their body size. Most of this increase in length is due to the greatly elongated metatarsal bones in the feet. The toes are also elongated, and unusually mobile, helping the animal to capture partially concealed prey. Another distinctive feature of the serval is the presence of large ears and auditory bullae in the skull, indicating a particularly acute sense of hearing. Servals have historically been kept as pets in Africa. The Ancient Egyptians worshipped the serval as gods, and kept them as pets. More recently, they have been kept as pets in North America and Europe. Servals develop an intense emotional bond with their original owners. Often, they will choose one member of the human family they live with to form an especially close and intense bond. However, once they have bonded with a particular human family, servals do not easily accept new owners or surroundings, and they may become quite unhappy if separated or placed with other families. For this reason, anyone taking in a serval must be willing to house and keep the serval for its entire life. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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