Are Serval Cats Dangerous? – Pango Pets

Serval cats are wild cats native to the African savannah. Their exotic appearance and size comparable to domestic cats make them attractive as pets. But are they safe? Serval cats are feral cats, which means they are considered dangerous. Although not as large as a cheetah or leopard, they have the precision, strength, and speed of a wild hunter, which can pose a threat to humans and other animals.

Are Servals dangerous for humans?

serval cat sitting on concrete floor
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Pixabay

It is not uncommon for Serval cats to show affection to their owners. So how can they be considered dangerous yet affectionate pets? Serval cats are generally not a direct threat to their owners or other humans. The problem is their natural hunting instinct, which can be activated under certain circumstances and present a danger.

Servals can cause mortal wounds. They have a bite force of 172 Newtons, compared to a wild domestic cat which has a bite force of 56 Newtons. These cats are also incredibly fast. They can run up to 80 km/h and knock out a bird with a single blow.

The Serval cat’s success rate in catching prey is around 90%. It is exceptionally high. For comparison, a tiger’s success rate is only about 10%. The precision and accuracy of a Serval earns him the title of best hunter among all species of exotic cats.

The physical characteristics of the Serval cat also make them dangerous animals. They can detect prey from miles away thanks to their long pointed ears. They are even able to hear prey burrowing underground or underwater. The Serval uses its long, sharp claws to kill, with a single scratch often deep enough to cause death.

High prey drive combined with strength and agility means a Serval cat could easily hurt a human.

Are Serval cats aggressive?

Serval cats are neither hostile nor combative, so they are generally not considered aggressive. However, these cats are extremely territorial and tend to play rough.

The territorial instincts of the Serval cause them to mark with their urine everything they consider to be theirs. If they feel their territory is threatened, these cats will scratch, lunge, or pounce at the perceived threat.

In the wild, aggression between Serval cats is rare. They avoid each other and do not fight, most often engaging in dominance displays such as placing a paw on another cat’s chest.

Aggressive behavior is most commonly seen in Serval cats when playing. Even when playing with a human, they may scratch, bite, or hiss. Although the behavior is not intentionally hostile, it can make it dangerous to interact with these cats.

Do Serval cats make good pets?

serval cat lying on the grass
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Pixabay

Although some people keep Servals in captivity, they are exceptionally difficult to care for and do not make good pets. They are not built to live alongside humans and find it difficult to cope outside of their natural habitat. They are also difficult to keep with other animals.

Here are some of the reasons Servals don’t make good pets:

  • They need a large space to explore and play.
  • Servals are highly skilled at escaping enclosed spaces.
  • Servals are territorial and will show aggression when threatened.
  • The life expectancy of this cat is 19 years.

Is it legal to have a Serval cat?

Exotic pet laws and prohibitions vary by location. In the United States, the law varies from state to state. Serval cats are uncontrolled exotic animals. They are not legal in all states, and in states where it is legal to own one, a license is usually required.

Final Thoughts

Serval cats are incredibly powerful feral cats that can be dangerous. They have unique needs that make it difficult to keep one as a pet. Servals have a high prey drive, are territorial, and can become aggressive during play. Their wild instincts make them better suited to life as a wildcat in the African savannah.

Featured image credit: Shutterstock

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