This is an African Serval.
It’s not a “baby cheetah” – which is what everyone seems to think they are.
While Servals do have spots like a Cheetah, they are completely different animals. They are much smaller than cheetahs, reaching only about 21 to 26 inches tall. Their height is mostly leg, making it one of the tallest cats – relative to body size.
They are from Africa - all over Africa, actually. And all over Africa they can be found running speeds up to 50 mph, and leaping seven to ten feet in the air to catch birds right out of the sky. The fact they can do that – succeeding 50% of the time – it makes them the most successful feline hunter in Africa, far surpassing the hunting success rate of the lions and cheetahs.
These little cuties are nocturnal and - like most other cats - prefer to work alone. They can live to be about 23 years old. Which means, if I was a Serval, I would have died some time last year – which is sad. Another thing that is sad, is that the Serval population is falling. It’s falling because humans are encroaching on their habitat, which means larger cats – like leopards – have a better opportunity to find them as prey. It’s not all on the larger cats, though – humans are poaching Servals for their pelts, which is basically the number one threat of any animal that is Threatened.
To end this on a happier note, though… Servals can purr.
Which is adorable.
[Also, the Serval in the picture with the boots… That’s Chip – the first Serval I ever worked with. Those are also my boots.]