The African Serval
What is a Serval Cat?
The serval is the 5th largest wild cat native to Africa.
Servals are active both day and night but tend to be solitary with minimal social interaction with
other servals or animals.
Servals are carnivores and their diet consists mainly of rodents (mice, rats, rabbits, etc),
small birds, reptiles, insects, frogs.
Servals use their exceptional sense of hearing to locate their prey.
Servals as pets need a fresh all raw diet with added appropriate vitamins and minerals.
Servals need to eat multiple times a day.
Servals mark home ranges with feces, saliva and urine. As a pet, a serval will need an outdoor
enclosureor more than likely the serval will mark your home with urine and possibly feces.
Servals can learn to use a litter box but they may opt to use a sink or bathtub to urinate in.
Servals gestational period is normally 3 months and typically have 1-4 kittens.
In the wild a Serval will wean kittens around one month of age and the kittens begin hunting
on their own at 4-6 months.
If a Serval litter is raised in home and the kittens are not pulled to be bottle raised, the kittens
can easily be scared of and/or aggressive toward humans.
Size of a Serval: Approximately 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 20 to 45 pounds
Territory: Up to 4 square miles
Jump Height: Approximately 10 feet
Many veterinarians will not provide care for a serval because it is a wild animal that needs special care and cannot be treated like a domestic cat. Servals need certain medications that they cannot receive due to their exotic/wild blood and genetic makeup. Certain medications that are not harmful to a domestic cat or a Savannah may be harmful to a serval
Serval Laws and Regulations
Since servals are a wild exotic and noted as 'potentially dangerous wild animals' most states have restrictions on Serval ownership and deem them illegal. Other states require you to have special license and permits. Also keep noted that the laws seem to change frequently so if you check this year and then in the following year decide to purchase a Serval you may want to check the updated regulations.
Serval in Captivity
A Serval is a wild animal and usually doesn’t make a great house pet. Servals can live up to 20 years old and need a zoo-like outside/inside facility with a large enough exercise area to run, shaded area, a pool in which to swim and dive, and an area with lots of climbing possibilities. Servals will escape if they are not secured. Servals will be unlikely to return once having escaped. Servals are solitary animals and like to travel many miles and will most likely need to be trapped in order to bring him/her back home.
Even if a Serval has been properly raised and has been socialized Servals will never be a lap cat. When deciding to purchase a serval you need to take a lot of time and do a lot of research. They require a ton of quality time, money, patience, and care. If you work a 9-5 job then a serval is probably not the cat for you. It is best that servals are not in homes with small animals or small children. Servals are natural hunters, we have heard horror stories of Servals attacking small dogs and putting small children in the hospital.
If you are looking for a pet and are attracted to the look of a Serval. We recommend that you consider purchasing a Savannah cat, which is a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat. Take a look at our Savannah Info page for more information.