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Can I Own a Serval Cat in the UK? Exploring the Possibilities and Considerations


Serval cats, also known as Leptailurus serval, are fascinating creatures native to Africa. With their striking appearance and unique characteristics, it’s no wonder that some people are interested in owning them as pets. In this article, we will explore the legality of owning a serval cat in the UK, discuss whether they can be kept as pets, address any potential threats they may pose to humans, and provide insights into their natural habitat and lifespan.

Legality of Owning a Serval Cat in the UK

Before considering owning a serval cat, it’s crucial to understand the legal restrictions in the UK. Currently, it is illegal to own a serval cat as a pet without a special license. This is because servals are classified as “dangerous wild animals” under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. To legally own a serval cat, you would need to obtain a license from your local council, which involves meeting specific requirements and demonstrating your ability to provide appropriate care for the animal.

Can a Serval Cat Be a Pet?

While it is technically possible to own a serval cat as a pet in the UK with the necessary license, it is important to consider the practicality and suitability of keeping such a wild animal in a domestic setting. Serval cats have unique needs and behaviors that can pose challenges for even experienced exotic pet owners.

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They are highly active and require a significant amount of space to roam and exercise. Servals have a strong prey drive and are skilled hunters, which can make it difficult to provide them with a balanced diet in captivity. Additionally, their wild instincts may lead to destructive behavior, making them unsuitable for households with delicate furniture or valuable possessions.

Furthermore, serval cats have specific socialization needs and may not thrive in isolation. They require mental stimulation, enrichment, and interaction with their owners to ensure their well-being. Due to these factors, owning a serval cat as a pet is generally discouraged unless you have extensive knowledge and experience in caring for exotic animals.

Are Serval Cats a Threat to Humans?

Serval cats are not typically considered a direct threat to humans. However, it is essential to remember that they are wild animals with natural instincts. While servals generally avoid confrontations with humans, there is always a risk of unpredictable behavior or aggression, especially if they feel threatened or cornered.

Moreover, servals possess impressive physical capabilities, including sharp claws and powerful leaping abilities. These traits, combined with their natural hunting instincts, can potentially cause harm to humans or other pets if not properly managed. It is crucial to prioritize safety and respect the serval’s wild nature when considering interactions with these animals.

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Where Do Serval Cats Live and What is Their Lifespan?

In the wild, serval cats are primarily found in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in grasslands, savannas, and wetlands. They are highly adaptable and can survive in a range of habitats, including mountainous regions and areas near water sources.

The average lifespan of a serval cat is around 10 to 12 years in the wild. In captivity, where they receive proper care and nutrition, servals can live up to 20 years or more. It is important to note that owning a serval cat requires a long-term commitment to their well-being and ensuring they have a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible.


Owning a serval cat in the UK is subject to legal restrictions and should be approached with caution. While their striking appearance and unique characteristics make them alluring, the practicality and suitability of keeping them as pets must be carefully considered. Servals require specialized care, ample space, and an understanding of their wild instincts. Additionally, it is crucial to prioritize safety and respect their natural behaviors. If you are truly passionate about serval cats, consider supporting conservation efforts or volunteering at reputable wildlife sanctuaries where you can observe and appreciate these magnificent creatures in a responsible and sustainable manner.

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