The seal is named after a cap-like bulge essay on the forehead and nose of the adult male which does not hang down, unlike that of the elephant seals.
The first recorded use of this name dates back to Characteristics[ edit ] A close-up of a serval. Melanistic servals are also known. Three to four black stripes run from the back of the head onto the shoulders, and then break into rows of spots. The African golden cat is darker, with different cranial features.
It inhabits semi-arid areas and cork oak forests close to the Mediterranean Seabut avoids rainforests and arid areas. It occurs in the Saheland is widespread in Southern Africa.
It prefers areas with cover, such as reeds and tall grasses, proximity to water bodies such as wetlands and savannahs. The serval is active in the day as well as at night; activity might peak in early morning, around twilight and at midnight.
Servals might be active for a longer time on cool or rainy days. During the hot midday, they rest or groom themselves in the shade of bushes and grasses. Servals remain cautious of their vicinity, though they may be less alert when no large carnivores or prey animals are around.
A solitary animal, there is little social interaction among servals except in the mating season, when pairs of opposite sexes may stay together.
The only long-lasting bond appears to be of the mother and her cubs, which leave their mother only when they are a year old. The area of these ranges can vary from 10 to 32 square kilometres 4 to 12 square miles ; prey density, availability of cover and human interference could be significant factors in determining their size.
Aggressive encounters are rare, as servals appear to mutually avoid one another rather than fight and defend their ranges. Agonistic behaviour involves vertical movement of the head contrary to the horizontal movement observed in other catsraising the hair and the tail, displaying the teeth and the white band on the ears, and yowling.
Individuals mark their ranges and preferred paths by spraying urine on nearby vegetation, dropping scats along the way, and rubbing their mouth on grasses or the ground while releasing saliva. Servals tend to be sedentary, shifting only a few kilometres away even if they leave their range.
It will seek cover to escape their view, and, if the predator is very close, immediately flee in long leaps, changing its direction frequently and with the tail raised.
To kill small prey, the serval will slowly stalk it, then pounce on it with the forefeet directed toward the chest, and finally land on it with its forelegs outstretched. The prey, receiving a blow from one or both of the serval's forepaws, is incapacitated, and the serval gives it a bite on the head or the neck and immediately swallows it.
Snakes are dealt more blows and even bites, and may be consumed even as they are moving. Larger prey, such as larger birds, are killed by a sprint followed by a leap to catch them as they are trying to flee, and are eaten slowly.
Servals have been observed caching large kills to be consumed later by concealing them in dead leaves and grasses. Servals typically get rid of the internal organs of rodents while eating, and pluck feathers from birds before consuming them. The number of kills in a hour period averaged 15 to Scavenging has been observed, but very rarely.
Oestrus in females lasts one to four days; it typically occurs once or twice a year, though it can occur three or four times a year if the mother loses her litters. Zoologist Jonathan Kingdon described the behaviour of a female serval in oestrus in his book East African Mammals.
He noted that she would roam restlessly, spray urine frequently holding her vibrating tail in a vertical manner, rub her head near the place she has marked, salivate continuously, give out sharp and short "miaow"s that can be heard for quite a distance, and rub her mouth and cheeks against the face of an approaching male.
The time when mating takes place varies geographically; births peak in winter in Botswana, and toward the end of the dry season in the Ngorongoro Crater. A trend generally observed across the range is that births precede the breeding season of murid rodents.
Births take place in secluded areas, for example in dense vegetation or burrows abandoned by aardvarks and porcupines. The eyes open after nine to thirteen days. Weaning begins after a month of birth; the mother brings small kills to her kittens and calls out to them as she approaches the "den".
At around six months, they acquire their permanent canines and begin to hunt themselves; they leave their mother at about 12 months of age.THE SPIKE.
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