African serval

Alert

Have you seen African serval?

Be on the lookout for African serval and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling African serval.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to Africa's tropical savannas, the African serval is a medium-sized cat with large ears and spotted fur.

Captive African servals are kept as pets in the USA and in zoos around the world, including in Australia. They have the potential to thrive in parts of Queensland if introduced into the wild. African servals can eat native species and attack humans.

To prevent African servals from establishing in Queensland, restrictions apply to their import, possession and sale.

The serval is a prohibited invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Leptailurus serval

Other names

  • Serval

Similar species

Description

  • Medium-sized cat with slender build, body 70-100cm long, tail 35-40cm long, shoulder height 60cm, weight 13-19kg.
  • Legs are long.
  • Coat is yellowish-tan with black spots, bands and stripes.
  • Tail is spotted, with 6-7 black rings, black tip, white or light tan underside.
  • Ears are large, erect.

Habitat

  • Prefers tropical savanna with readily available water and cover such as tall grass or reed beds.
  • Can also inhabit wide variety of other habitats, including arid areas and high-altitude, low-temperature environments.

Distribution

  • Not yet recorded in Queensland, except in zoos.

Life cycle

  • Non-seasonal breeders, but births tend to peak during wet season.
  • Usually 2 kittens per litter.
  • Young begin hunting at 6 months and leave mother at 12 months.
  • Sexually mature from 1-2 years old.
  • Life expectancy 10 years in wild, up to 20 in captivity.

Affected animals

  • native animals
  • frogs
  • lizards
  • birds

Impacts

Environmental

  • Eats native species such as birds, frogs and lizards.

Social

  • Can make unprovoked attacks on people, causing serious injuries that require hospitalisation.
  • Keeping of pet servals in USA is associated with controversial de-clawing procedures.

Natural enemies

  • Hyenas, African wild dogs, leopards.

Control

Early detection is essential for preventing pest establishment. If you have seen or are in possession of an African serval, contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Legal requirements

  • This is a prohibited invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be kept, moved, fed, given away or sold without a permit.
  • All sightings of servals must be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of the animal escaping until they receive advice from an authorised officer.

Further information