Are servals legal in Florida?

It is legal to possess a serval in Florida provided you have the requisite permit. Servals are classified as a class II wildlife species by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). I believe the question is asking whether an individual resident of Florida has the legal right to own and possess a serval. If I’m correct in that assessment, such a person would have to apply for a licence to possess class II wildlife for personal ‘use’ (to use FWC language) at a fee of $140 (as at the date of this post – things change).

Serval as a pet
Serval as a pet
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

FWC have an application form online in PDF format which can be downloaded. A large part of the application for a licence asks whether the applicant has a critical incident-disaster plan. This is a major part of the application. The applicant must show specific details about the action that they would take in the event of an emergency and/or critical incident. They need to provide information about the capture and transport equipment that they will use including physical capture equipment, cages and vehicles. They must provide facility information i.e. the location where the serval is to be maintained including emergency contact and veterinary contact information.

The applicant also has to provide information regarding the wildlife species that they currently possess in Florida and the wildlife that they do not possess in Florida. Also, FWC collects Social Security numbers.

In addition, applicants for a class II wildlife permit must submit 1000 hours of experience in the care, feeding, handling and husbandry of a serval. And they must submit two reference letters, “one of which must be licensed by the commission for the authorization(s) the applicant is seeking or a representative of a professional organization or governmental institution”.

Asha a serval on TikTok
Asha a serval on TikTok. Image: TikTok.

In short, an application to own and possess a serval in Florida on a personal basis is quite demanding and I would guess that it is beyond the capability of most applicants to be successful in such an application.

You can see the application form by clicking on the link below:

FWC application for a class II wild species by an individual for personal ‘use’.

Serval jumps from wardrobe
Serval jumps from wardrobe

Servals are popular as pets in America. Applicants should realise, though, that it is difficult to be a successful caregiver of a tamed, while serval. There are many examples of servals escaping from private homes into public areas where they frighten people which can mean that the serval’s freedom ends badly. I don’t need to go into detail but you can imagine what the police would do if a resident telephoned them to say that there is a large dangerous wild cat roaming around the neighbourhood. Servals are indeed quite large. They have quite nice personalities but their inherent wildness is worn on their sleeve and they can hurt people which is why sometimes they are declawed. This is a cruel act of callous self-indulgence. It is not uncommon for purchasers of servals to give them up to shelters because they realise it has not worked out.

The link below provides a lot of detail from FWC on the standards required:

Guidance in applying for a permit to own retricted wildife in Florida


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