Serval cats are found throughout Africa. They have extra long legs and elongated necks, which give them the nickname “giraffe cat.”
Serval has the longest legs of any cat with respect to body size. Their long legs also enable them to jump as high as three meters into the air to catch prey.
Servals’ unusually long legs, neck and body shape is part of their adaptation needed for successful hunting in the Savannah. In fact, they’re the best hunters in comparison to other exotic cats.
They have a killing rate of 90% in all attempts. And they hunt reptiles, insects, birds, frogs and rodents. However, there are things you need to know before adopting a pet serval. Read on!
Can A Serval Cat Kill A Human?
Serval cats have wild instincts. These cats are very successful hunters, and they have mastered the act of surviving in the savannah. They can take out dangerous preys like snakes. And they are very successful hunters.
When bored and their wild instincts kick in, serval cats can cause serious injuries to a child. And if not stopped by an adult, serval could kill a child. However, it can’t kill an adult.
Does A Serval Cat Have A Violent Behavior?
Servals can be calm and aggressive. When bottle-fed from a young age, servals can be friendly to their owners. They may become aggressive when hungry, bored or they find themselves among a large group of people.
Note that servals have and retain strong wild hunting instincts. Therefore, they could be aggressive to other smaller pets in the home, such as birds, rodents and fish.
There’s also evidence of serval’s violence towards humans. There was an incident where Cooper, a four-year old serval attacked a kid at a zoo in Indiana, U.S.A.
The zoo usually used the serval cat for educational purposes and they have been doing that for a long period. Unfortunately, the serval cat’s hunting instincts decided to kick in that very day or maybe it felt threatened by the kid’s closeness.
The attack left the youngster’s head scratched and it could have been worse if there was no adult around to prevent the cat from further attacking the kid. So, serval cats can be violent.
Has A Serval Cat Killed A Human?
Let’s quickly compare servals’ bite force before answering the question.
Serval cats’ bite force at their canine teeth is 172 Newton whereas domestic cats have a bite force of 56 Newton.
So, serval bite force is massive. Little wonder they’re able to take down larger prey compared to feral cats.
However, there has never been a report of death caused by humans. Servals boost great hunting skills and massive bite force, as you can see. But they have never killed a human.
That isn’t to say serval cats aren’t dangerous. You have to be extremely careful if you have pet servals. Why? These creatures have caused massive injuries to people. In other words, they have caused life-threatening injuries that would have claimed the lives of people had it not been the help of medical personnel.
In June 2000, a 40 pound African serval attacked a 4 year old boy, ripping off his throat and puncturing his face. The guy that was walking the cat had some bite wounds, which is to say servals can be violent to their owners too.
The 4 year old boy was severely injured, and had to undergo a plastic surgery to fix the injuries. Now this happened in New York.
Another incident involving a serval and a human occurred in Florida in December 2001. A 40-pound declawed serval attacked a 7-year old boy during a picnic, ripping off his throat.
The shocking part was that the innocent boy was just walking when the 40-pound African serval pounced and punched him to the ground.
Media outlets in the United States of America have reported several cases of servals fleeing from their owners. And
What Is The Lifespan of Serval Cats?
Serval cats’ normal lifespan is 19 years. Additionally, these cats prefer to live near water and boast excellent hearing skills.
Servals’ great hearing ability enables it to locate prey from miles away. It feeds on reptiles, frogs, insects, and birds.
Another thing you need to know about servals is that they’re not popular in Northern Africa, but are common in Southern Africa. They live in moorlands, grasslands and bamboo thickets, with an altitude up to 12,500 feet.
What Characteristics Do Serval Cats Have?
If you’re planning to acquire a pet serval, it’s important to learn about their characteristics. That way, you’ll know what you’re dealing with and make an informed decision.
Housing is one of the challenges serval owners may face, as the cat prefers life in the wild rather than living in peoples’ homes.
Serval cats also make diverse noises when happy, hungry or unhappy, which can be uncomfortable for your closed door neighbors to bear. They make spitting hisses, high-pitched cries and growls.
There’s a reason servals are called “giraffe cats” or “cats of spare parts.” They have long legs in relation to their body parts, and have long ears too.
In fact, if a person has a serval’s ears, theirs would be as large as a dinner plate. The long legs and long neck enables servals to leap in the air to catch prey.
Servals can leap to over five feet to grab their prey and are good at digging. You’ll find them digging the ground in search of ground squirrels.
So, your house may not be enough to contain a serval cat, considering their height, including how much they enjoy roaming, climbing and leaping.
Another challenge a serval owner may face is meeting the cat’s dietary needs.
They can eat 4 – 5 times daily when younger, but this reduces to 3 times daily, as they grow old.
A Handy Tip: Servals are carnivores. So, endeavor to incorporate meat and protein into their diet plan.
Can you cuddle or stroke a serval? You can’t stroke or cuddle a serval like other animals like domestic cats. Servals can grow up to 40 pounds, and they usually don’t like cuddling and stroking.
Here is a breakdown of serval characteristics to have in mind before bringing the animal into your home as a pet.
|10.||Tendency to vocalize||Medium|
Also, you need to understand that servals can be affectionate to their owners. In other words, they can become emotionally attached to one person. Unfortunately, they can be hostile and aggressive to strangers.
Again, it is not advisable to keep a serval cat as a pet in a home with kids and other smaller pets.
What Are The Common Health Challenges Servals Face?
Before you bring a serval to your home, it’s important that you learn about the challenges the cats can have.
When fed with the right diet and kept in a clean environment, your serval won’t fall sick. Servals can fall sick when they consume the bacteria growing on rotten meat.
The swallowing of foreign objects is another popular problem that may prompt serval owners to take their cats to the veterinary. The thing is the serval is a ravenous eater. Therefore, foods always lodge in their throat.
When this happens, the cat would regurgitate and re-consume the food. If regurgitation doesn’t happen successfully, your serval may choke unless you take it to an exotic pet vet to get the needed medical attention.
Serval cats also require the same yearly immunization and deworming that other cats require. Unfortunately, small animal vets may not have interest in treating serval because it’s a wild animal.
So, if you want to keep a serval as a pet, ensure you have easy access to an exotic pet vet who can take proper care of the animal in an emergency.
What Is It Legal In The United States To Keep A Serval Cat?
Whether you capture it in the wild or had to raise it in captivity, it doesn’t change the fact that the serval cat is a wild animal. However, not all states permit keeping serval as a pet.
Some that permit keeping serval as pets may require owners to get a license, while some don’t require owners to get a license.
States that requires serval owners to have a license:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- Rhode Island
States where you don’t require a license to own a serval cat:
- North Carolina
So these are the states where you can keep a serval cat as a pet with and without a license. I explained the states where a license is required and where you don’t need a license.
Note that besides these states, you cannot keep a serval as a pet in the other states. It’s illegal to do so.
Can a serval cats kill a human? A serval cat can harm a human, both adults and kids. Reports of serval cats attacking and injuring humans have also flooded the media.
Serval cats have been reported to have tore certain kids’ throats, leaving the kids in a life-threatening condition and sending them to the ER.
These cats have a strong bite force (172 Newton), allowing them to take out large prey. So, they can actually kill a kid if there’s no adult around to prevent the attack. A kid that has his or her throat ripped off by a serval may likely bleed to death if there was no one around to rush them down to the hospital.