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The average lifespan for servals is about 10 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in captivity. Serval are slender cats with long legs, a lean body, a short tail, and a small head. Their legs and ears are long and considered the largest in the cat family relative to their size. Facial features include the brownish or greenish eyes, white whiskers on the snout and near the ears.

The coat is basically golden-yellow to buff, and extensively marked with black spots and stripes. Three to four black stripes run from the back of the head onto the shoulders, and then break into rows of spots. The spots show great variation in size. The white underbelly has dense and fluffy basal fur, and the soft guard hairs.

Servals have excellent sense of smell, hearing and sight, which they use both for finding the prey and for avoiding predators. Being a solitary animal, servals only interact with other members of their species when mating, caring for young, or fighting for territory. With a combination of long, powerful legs, deep chest, and slim build allows the serval to reach a sustained speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).

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