Are servals legal in Georgia?

Asha a serval on TikTok
Asha a pet serval on TikTok. Image: TikTok.
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It is illegal for individual living in Georgia to own and possess a serval without a licence or permit. I can quote the law of Georgia on this with confidence and I have just got off the telephone to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division (tel: [001] 770-918-6408). They confirmed that servals are illegal to own in Georgia if you are an individual. You require a special permit and you can apply to the same department for that permit.

Specific law on this is as follows:

2010 Georgia Code
§ 27-5-5 – Wild animals for which license or permit required

O.C.G.A. 27-5-5 (2010)
27-5-5. Wild animals for which license or permit required

(b) Except as provided in this Code section, a license or permit is required for the following wild animals and any others specified by regulation of the board:

(K) Order Carnivora (weasels, ferrets, cats, bears, wolves, etc.) — All species, except that a European ferret (Mustela putorius furo) may be sold, purchased, exhibited, or held as a pet without a license or permit; provided, however, that the ferret owner can provide valid documentation that the ferret was sexually neutered prior to seven months of age and is vaccinated against rabies with a properly administered vaccine approved for use on ferrets by the United States Department of Agriculture;

I will summarise what that law states if that helps. A licence or permit is required for all wild cat species (this is a catchall clause). In fact, all species in the order carnivora which includes weasels, ferrets, cats, bears and wolves et cetera require a licence. There is an exception for the European ferret as you can see.

Regarding “special permits” to own a wild cat species in Georgia, the enforcement division of DNR state that all permits expire on March 31. All permit renewals must be submitted by March 1 for the upcoming 12-month period from April to March. Renewals submitted after March 1 may take 4-6 weeks to process, which may cause you or your business to be non-compliant for several weeks. The word “business” refers to obtaining a licence for dangerous wild animals which includes the very large cats such as mountain lions and tigers for example.

The same department has a guide to legal pets and in that guide, they asked people to think twice before acquiring an exotic animal as a companion. They address certain issues such as young animals growing up and changing when mature, becoming more aggressive and trying to escape. They state that most exotic pets suffer from malnutrition resulting in bad health and sometimes premature death. Some exotic animals are more active at night which is disruptive. And some animals live a very long time and indeed may outlive the owner. Lastly, veterinarians may be unfamiliar with the kind of exotic animal that you want to keep as a pet.


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