Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Honestly--Have You Met Jasi and Nefie?

Our servals caught playing at night!
Have you met our African Servals yet?  No?  Well then, introductions are long overdue!  Meet Jasi (male serval coming up on his ninth birthday) and Nefertiti, aka “Nefie” (female serval who just had her third birthday last October).  Both servals were well-kept former pets, brought to us by their former owners. 

Jasi’s former owner came to Wylie, Texas looking for a fresh start.  Shortly after her arrival, Jasi decided to explore his new neighborhood by letting himself out the front door.  This clever wild cat was able to manipulate the door lever and push  it open to the dismay of the owner.  For about a week, Jasi explored his world until he was finally picked up by animal control and returned to his owner.  The owner had all the required paperwork to maintain the serval and intended on keeping little Jasi with her for as long as possible, so animal control returned the cat to his rightful owner after keeping him for about a week.  Unexpectedly, about six months later, Jasi’s former owner’s financial situation dramatically changed and she was unable to keep Jasi with her. Fortunately, the owner lived closed to In-Sync Exotics and was able to bring the boy to our facility. 

Meet Jasi!
We were aware at the time of Jasi’s arrival that he had a heart murmur.  A heart murmur is caused by turbulent blood flow within the heart or the large vessels exiting the heart. This results in an abnormal noise which was detected years ago by his former vet during examination. 

Our vet examined Jasi and recommended that he take Enalapril so as to dilate his blood vessels, helping his heart to work more efficiently.  Thankfully, Jasi’s heart murmur is unchanged so he only requires periodic examinations.

Living at In-Sync Exotics was a big transition for Jasi as he was used to living in a house and not outdoors.  To help him get used to his new home, we placed pillows on his den’s platforms to mimic the look and feel of his old sofa.  It took a while for Jasi to acclimate to his outdoor environment, but thanks to Nefie, his cagemate, he is now enjoying his new life.  Jasi’s former owner used to visit the boy for quite often until she accepted a job out of state.  It is our hope she will return someday soon and see how well Jasi is doing.

Nefie relaxing!
Nefie, the younger of the two servals, likes to keeps Jasi on his toes.  Nefie was voluntarily relinquished to us by her previous owners, who bought her from a breeder when she was only 2 pounds. She lived with them in the house for 15 months and only ventured outside when on a leash for walks.

Like Jasi, Nefie's owners took very good care of her, keeping her up-to-date on all shots and medical care; she was also microchipped at an early age. At 10 months old Nefie suffered from a broken leg, which was repaired at Texas A&M and is declawed on her front paws.

Nefie's owners decided to give her up when they realized they just didn't have time for her anymore.

Poor little Nefie was terrified of her new living arrangements! She shook with fear any time someone walked near her. Since she was not used to being outside we decided to keep her in an indoor enclosure for a few days.  Sadly, the previous owners have never returned to see how Nefie fared at her new home—they dropped her off and never looked back.

It was two years ago, yesterday, when Nefie arrived at In-Sync Exotics, and today she is a completely different cat.  She loves to play with her puppet toy, teasing Jasi, and keeping volunteers who care for her on their toes!  Nafie is no longer scared of people!  She has truly matured into a beautiful young serval.

So, does anyone happen to know what “serval” means?  Well, the name Serval is derived from a Portuguese word meaning "wolf-deer."  Interesting, huh?

Serval Range Map
Wild adult servals weight between 20-45 lbs. and stand about 21-26" tall at the shoulders with males larger than females. They are about 25 - 40" long, with a 8 - 18" tail. Servals are a medium-sized cat with golden coats containing bold black rosettes. They have big ears with distinct white oceli (white spots on the back of the ear just like tigers do) and long, slender legs.  Servals are found through the middle and southern parts of Africa and they are almost always centered near water, which is why the range does not include the driest areas of the continent including parts of the Sahara desert.  Their typical diet consists of rodents, insects and small birds caught in mid-air.

The serval's long and disc-like ears are used to detect the sound of movement. The cat has extraordinarily good hearing, and can pick up the ultrasonic high frequencies emitted by rodents and other small creatures. They can easily hone in on prey with their tall ears. Once they pin point the position, from where the sound is emanating, they can easily spot their prey. Prey is stalked and then pounced upon in a leap. Their long legs allows them to see just over the top of the grass, then leap straight up into the air to pounce on a rodent, mole rat, ground squirrel, or maybe a bird.

The serval is not known for attacking anything larger than a bird and will definitely not harm livestock. Even though they are sometimes blamed for sheep and poultry losses, jackals or other wild cats are more likely the culprits. Therefore, they are able to coexist with humans in the farmland areas of Africa.

Sadly,people are the main threat to servals. They are hunted for their tawny coats and in some areas for their meat. Servals are losing their fight for survival in the wild, and have now dwindled down in numbers due to human over-population taking over their habitat and hunting them for their pelts. They are also preyed upon by the bigger cats and wild dogs.

The serval is listed in CITES Appendix 2 (valid from December 22, 2011), indicating that cat is "not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.”

We hope you enjoyed this article on our African Servals.  Jasi and Nefie are waiting for you to come and see them, so please make plans to see them soon!

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