The Serval (Leptailurus serval) is a wild cat native to Africa. It is rare in North Africa and the Sahel, but widespread in sub-Saharan countries except rainforest regions. The serval is a slender, medium-sized cat; it stands 54 to 62 cm (21–24 in) at the shoulder and weighs 8 to 18 kg (18–40 lb), but females tend to be lighter. The head-and-body length is typically between 67 and 100 cm (26–39 in). Males tend to be sturdier than females. Prominent characteristics include the small head, large ears, spotted and striped coat, long legs and a black-tipped tail that is around 30 cm (12 in) long. The serval has the longest legs of any cat relative to its body size, largely due to the greatly elongated metatarsal bones in the feet. The toes are elongated as well, and unusually mobile. The coat is basically golden-yellow to buff, and extensively marked with black spots and stripes. The spots show great variation in size. Melanistic servals are also known.
The serval is a carnivore that preys on rodents, particularly vlei rats, small birds, frogs, insects and reptiles, and also feeds on grass that can facilitate digestion or act as an emetic. Up to 90% of the preyed animals weigh less than 200 grams (7 oz); occasionally it also hunts larger prey such as duikers, hares, flamingoes and young antelopes. The percentage of rodents in the diet has been estimated at 80-97%. Apart from vlei rats, other rodents recorded frequently in the diet include the African grass rat, African pygmy mouse and multimammate mice.