Wednesday 28 March 2012

Serval Kills 4,000 Rodents A Year

The servals of the Serengeti kill 4,000 rodents, 260 snakes and 130 birds each year on average. Servals on average make 0.8 kills per hour in the daytime and 0.5 kills per hour during nighttime (or 1 kill every 2 hours).

They do this hunting/killing while covering the territory at 2.5 kills for every kilometer travelled during the day and at 1.9 kills for every kilometer travelled at night. Young servals (juveniles) kill more frequently at 4.2 kills per kilometer.

Obviously servals don't kill in a routine manner so there will be extended periods when kills do not take place.

The study of kill rates is part of "hunting energetics". Energetics is the study of the transformation of energy. In this instance the amount of energy needed in the form of consumed prey to sustain the serval in his activities including hunting.

By comparison the lynx in the north of Sweden make 1.2 kills every 24 hours. That is much less than the serval.  It is less in the south at 0.6 kills/24 hours and even lower in the east at 0.3 kills/24 hours.

I wonder how many rodents a year the feral cat kills? If there are 80 million feral cats in the USA and each one kills 500 rodents per year that makes 40 billion rodents killed by feral cats yearly. That's a bit of a thought.

Source: page 90 of The Natural History of the Wild Cats by Andrew Kitchener. ISBN 0-8014-8498-7

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