Creature Control

Two Wild African Cats Found North of Howell



The big news this week out of Livingston County, Michigan is the capture of a 35 pound African serval cat. The animal was spotted wandering along the side of the road late one evening and was subsequently picked up by Livingston County Animal Control officials working in conjunction with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department. The animal control official used a catch pole to snare and restrain the animal, which was described as putting up “quite a fuss” about being captured.

Servals are small, exotic cats native to Africa. They are related to the cheetah and more distantly to the lion, ranging all throughout central Africa. Servals can grow up to three feet long and walk two feet off the ground, weighing up to 36 lbs. Their coats are tawny with black spots, similar to that of a cheetah. Relative to their body size, servals have the longest legs of any cat. Servals also have extremely large ears and a highly developed sense of hearing. They hunt mainly at night and feed on rodents, though they will also kill and eat birds, reptiles, fish and frogs.

Servals are increasingly being domesticated and brought to the United States. Though they are exotic, serval cats are not considered dangerous to humans. They do not need to be registered or microchipped.

A second serval cat was recently spotted on Fausset Road north of Howell. It is unknown how many serval cats may be in the area, but animal control officials, local authorities and residents are obviously worried about too many of them roaming the woods and fields of northern Livingston County, which are not too dissimilar from the serval’s native savannah. It is not known where the two wild African cats came from.

As for the serval captured this week, it will likely end up at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek if its owner doesn’t come forward within four days as required under law.

Click here for photos of the two servals.

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