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Servals have the longest legs relative to body size of any cats. This allows them to see over tall grass in the savanna. They have large ears and a very sensitive sense of hearing. They can jump up to 12 feet horizontally and up to 10 feet vertically into the air to catch birds but more often eat rodents, snakes, reptiles, insects and fish. They sometimes play with their prey before eating it, usually hunting at night. They are solitary animals in the wild. The young are initially blind, opening their eyes at 9-13 days of age. At around six months, they acquire their permanent canine teeth and begin to hunt. They leave their mother at about 12 months of age. Their populations have decreased due to hunting for their pelts and loss of habitat.
It is widely distributed south of the Sahara, remaining in Tunisia because of a reintroduction program.
These photos were taken at a sanctuary for exotic carnivores, which rescues them from abusive situations or from people who had them as pets until they realized that these wild animals cannot be domesticated. (Those people must agree never to have them as pets again.) A few were born at the sanctuary until a decision was made about 10 years ago not to allow reproduction. It is a no-touch facility, not permitting any human contact unless the animal must be anesthetized for examination or treatment by a veterinarian. The sanctuary opposes keeping wild cats as pets or for entertainment purposes, as well as the trade in wild animals.