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How much Serval in my SV?

Mars_F4

Savannah Adult
Friends and family have asked this question when they see/ meet Mars, mostly because they love how wild he looks and sometimes because they're concerned by the myths that Savannahs may be dangerous because of their heritage.

Right now I just guess he's around 6% as a standard F4 SBT, but I understand that it can vary depending on his family tree.

Is there an official blood test or something that breeders/ curious owners can pay for to know more about their babies?
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
No, there is no DNA test for Serval content.

An outcrossed F4A would be 6.25% so chances are that your F4SBT is higher than that... I calculated my F4C girl Nadiya at 11.6%. It's a long process where you get the 5 generation pedigree and work backwards from the Serval in the pedigree. As our pedigrees get more and more complicated it is harder to get an accurate number though...

Realize though that this is a theoretical calculation only, because with the way DNA divides from one generation to the next the only absolute % we have is the F1 as they will be 50% Serval. But the egg from the F1 may contain a variable amount of Serval DNA, not necessarily 25% (as a 50% split of the Serval genes she inherited from Serval daddy).

You should point your relatives to info about Servals to show them that the exotic cat behind the Savannah is not aggressive, does not see the human as "prey" and is the most social of the wild cats. Thus the Serval influence does not make them "wild and dangerous"... no matter the content.
 

Chris Elliott

Savannah Super Cat
Ok--I'm not a geneticist, but this is how I understand it.

It's basically impossible to know without a full genetic sequencing of your cat, as well as a Serval and a house cat. Then someone would have to determine what genes are unique to Servals and what percentage of them your cat has. Combine this with the variation of DNA between individual cats/Servals and it gets complicated.

A full genetic work up should be approaching $1000. Note that the DNA sequencing places like 23&me are only partial and focus on specific sections of interest in humans. I'm pretty sure house cats have been fully sequenced, but I don't see any data on Servals. So you're looking at thousands + the cost of the analysis.

Note that almost all Savannahs descend from only male Servals, so all of the mitochondrial DNA is from the house cat.

The only Savannah you can say definitively how much Serval they have is a F1 with a fully house cat mother. All other cases, it's impossible to tell which genes were inherited without a full work up.

So, we're left with guesstimates, as Brigitte points out.
 

Mars_F4

Savannah Adult
No, there is no DNA test for Serval content.

An outcrossed F4A would be 6.25% so chances are that your F4SBT is higher than that... I calculated my F4C girl Nadiya at 11.6%. It's a long process where you get the 5 generation pedigree and work backwards from the Serval in the pedigree. As our pedigrees get more and more complicated it is harder to get an accurate number though...

Realize though that this is a theoretical calculation only, because with the way DNA divides from one generation to the next the only absolute % we have is the F1 as they will be 50% Serval. But the egg from the F1 may contain a variable amount of Serval DNA, not necessarily 25% (as a 50% split of the Serval genes she inherited from Serval daddy).

You should point your relatives to info about Servals to show them that the exotic cat behind the Savannah is not aggressive, does not see the human as "prey" and is the most social of the wild cats. Thus the Serval influence does not make them "wild and dangerous"... no matter the content.

Thank you for the great detail Brigitte and Chris, both posts more than answered my question! Very cool that Servals are the most social of the wild cats, I'll definitely bring that up going forward :)

Wow, it's unfortunate that it's difficult to determine how much serval % is in each of our cats. I'll definitely try get a better guesstimate once I receive Mars ' pedigree papers. I feel I owe my baby at least that much for his identity! And he says 'Hi!'
20140513_1.JPG
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
Chris, I'm not sure that there is any lab that would/could do a complete gene sequencing on a Savannah - I believe they would have to have it done on a serval first which I'm not sure has been done, although some exotics have. I remember when it was first announced that the domestic house cat had been fully sequenced and that about 97% of its DNA was exactly the same as it's distant exotic cousins.

And yes, it is true that the serval bears the reputation of being the most easily domesticated of all exotic cats.
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
That's interesting about Nadiya's percentage Brigitte since my Kookie has a calculated TWiG of only 11.3% and he is the product of two generations of F3 x F4 breeding - or is Nadiya one of your virtual F4s, descended from Katie?
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
The Breeders Assistant (and I'm sure other pedigree programs) has a coefficient calculation so that you can plug in either OOS (serval code) or SZ (alternative serval code) and come up with the percentage of how much serval TWiG (theoretical wild gene) is in your cat. Of course, you have to have the complete pedigree all the way back to the serval on all cats in order for it to be accurate. That's how I calculated Kookie's TWiG.
http://www.tenset.co.uk/ba/index.html
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
That's interesting about Nadiya's percentage Brigitte since my Kookie has a calculated TWiG of only 11.3% and he is the product of two generations of F3 x F4 breeding - or is Nadiya one of your virtual F4s, descended from Katie?
No, but she does have more than one F4 male in her pedigree...
 
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