Information about Serval Cat, Can They Be Kept as Pets?

Serval cats are wild cats native to sub-Saharan Africa, but can servals be good pets? With their large ears, slender bodies, and distinctive spotted fur, they are easily recognizable and attract those who are passionate about cats. Currently, there are 19 recognized subspecies of servals living in at least 35 African countries.

They are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, but they face threats from habitat loss, hunting, and human encroachment. Unfortunately, the serval’s natural hunting instincts, which often involve killing poultry, can create conflicts with humans, who retaliate by killing them.

Angry farmers are not the only ones posing a threat to servals; they are also targeted by poachers for the illegal wildlife trade. Their fur, teeth, and claws fetch high prices on the black market. Poachers also illegally capture servals and sell them to breeders for the exotic pet trade.

Here, we will examine why servals do not make good pets. We will then explore the exact reasons why these wild animals should not be kept as pets in homes. We will consider the ethics of purchasing an exotic pet and the practicality of keeping one in a domestic environment. Next, we will examine the legality of owning a pet serval. Finally, we will look at some better alternatives to buying an exotic pet of the same species.

Can Serval Cats Be Kept as Pets?

Pet owners seek serval cats for their unique appearance and their natural athletic nature—their kitten-like appearance also adds to their appeal. They have long been known as the “designer cats” of the exotic pet trade. However, despite their appearance, exotic cats do not necessarily make good pets.

Servals are wild animals and should not be kept as domesticated pets. Their allure is understandable; they are magnificent creatures. However, while many people may equate them with domestic cats, wild cats are a completely different species, and wildlife conservationists around the world agree that servals do not belong in homes.

However, just because you shouldn’t have a pet serval doesn’t mean you can’t buy one. Currently, some states in the US allow individuals to purchase and keep them as pets. Some other states allow ownership with permits, while full ownership is outright illegal in most states. Additionally, it is illegal to own pet servals in many provinces in Canada.

Reasons Why Serval Cats Should Not Be Kept as Pets

Serval cats may be cute, but that doesn’t mean they make good pets. They are not domesticated cats that have been bred for thousands of years and have adapted well to living in human settlements. On the contrary, servals are wild animals and thrive in the wild. This also applies to hybrid cat breeds between domestic cats and servals, such as the Savannah cat.

Let’s examine the three most important reasons why buying a pet serval is not advisable.

1. Illegal Wildlife Trade

Unfortunately, no matter how reputable a breeder may be, no serval cat comes without a cost. To support the exotic pet trade, poachers illegally capture wild animals and sell them to breeders. Capturing servals from the wild like this is illegal. The inherently illegal nature of these captures has met the increasing demand for all types of exotic wildlife and their parts on the black market, such as elephant ivory or tiger skins.

This means that regardless of how cute a pet serval may be or how praised the breeders may be, purchasing a pet serval (or any other exotic pet) supports the illegal wildlife trade. This trade is also linked to illegal poaching and killing of rare and endangered animal species, such as other big cats, pangolins, and animals with valuable parts like rhinos and elephants. The exotic pet trade directly contributes to the loss of biodiversity on our planet.

2. Wild Animals are Not Pets

Pet servals may look adorable, but that does not mean they make good pets. They are not domesticated house cats that have been raised for thousands of years and have adapted well to living in human settlements. On the contrary, servals are wild animals and thrive in the wild. This applies even if they are kept indoors from an early age, as they still have the ability to mark everything with urine—frequently. Pet servals are not only challenging to train but also highly intelligent and physically active. If their natural hunting instincts are not satisfied, they can develop behavioral issues.

When considering whether to buy a pet serval, it is important to remember that no wild animal deserves to live within the confines of a home. In the wild, servals roam vast territories in the African grasslands, far from sitting on a couch. Unlike domestic cats, pet servals have not been domesticated; they hardly ever exist long in private homes. Disappointed owners often release them into the “wild,” where they may starve, die from accidents, or get picked up by animal control and sent to a big cat sanctuary.

3. Legal Considerations

In addition to the ethical concerns of owning a pet serval, there are legal implications as well. Owning serval cats is illegal in most states of the United States and in several provinces of Canada. Some states in the US allow ownership with permits, and only a few states allow full ownership of pet servals.

Currently, many wildlife conservation groups and large cat rescue organizations are pushing for a federal ban on pet serval ownership in the United States. This is primarily due to the fact that many pet owners eventually find their way to big cat sanctuaries (hopefully) after realizing the inherent dangers of attempting to keep a wild animal as a pet.

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