African servals, exotic cats as pets

Serval/Exotic Cat Care
Sugarmint – Loving Surprise, by Bob Turner
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Pat heard a squeaking sound coming from Peppermints bed. Pat said, oh no, she has a mouse. To her surprise, it was not a mouse, but a beautiful baby serval.

Peppermint let us be with her and Sugarmint as much as we wanted and Sugarmint seemed comfortable with that and did not hiss at us.

Things were working out well until the 11th. Day. On that day, every time we would go to Peppermint, she would pick up Sugarmint and carry him from the nest bed to us.

Finally, we got concerned for the welfare of Sugarmint and pulled him from Peppermint.

Later that night when I picked up Peppermint and was holding her and telling her she was not the best mommy for giving up her kitten, I notice her milk had tried up.

Now I knew why she was trying to give her beautiful loving kitten to us. She could not feed her baby and wanted us to save her baby.

With tears, I told her how good of a mommy she was to our little surprise, named Sugarmint.





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My wife Patricia and myself get very attached to things, probably more than we should. I work at General Motors and get the employee discount on GM vehicles. Due to the vehicle discount, most of the General Motors employees trade in their vehicles for new vehicles every year or two. Financially, maybe my wife and I should trade in our vehicles for new vehicles every year or two, but we don’t. We keep our vehicles at least 10 years. The reason, we get attached to that vehicle and want to keep it. I take very good maintenance care of our vehicles and they last at least 10 years. This is an example of getting attached to things.

We use to do wildlife rehab for the state of Indiana. By law, we had to release all of the rehab animals and birds we took in. It was hard for us to do the wildlife rehab work due to getting very attached to the animals and birds, which made for a sad day when they had to be released. We knew that we were doing the right thing, but we are not good at letting go.

In the fall of 1993, we got our first exotic cat, an African Serval from Donna Amos on the west coast. So thankful for Donna breeding the servals and all the sacrifices she has to go through so that others like us have the opportunity to share their lives with the beautiful animals. If the wonderful people like Donna were like Pat and I, then there would not be the newborn animals available for others. What a loss that would be to the captive conservation.

Since 1993, our exotic cat family has grown to (5) servals, (3) bobcats, and a temporary cougar. We did not breed any of our cats because we would get too attached and could not sell them to others. We would also be too overly concerned about their welfare after being sold. Thanks to all the breeders who are able to work through that problem.

About a year ago, we exchanged our male serval named Sukari for our friends Bill and Diana Johnson’s male serval named Sierra. For over a year, Bill and Diana’s Sierra, would not attempt to breed with any of their (5) female servals, so we made the exchange in the hope that Sukari would breed with their females. Bill said Sierra was a “Gay Boy” and is not interested in the girls. Since Sierra was not romantically interested in the pretty females, for the past year we let one of our female servals named Peppermint play with Sierra.

On Thursday, November 4, 2004, we had a great surprise occur at our facility. This was the first of three surprises over the next 11 days. We found out Sierra was a bad bad boy. On that day, Pat heard a squeaking sound coming from Peppermints bed. Pat said, oh no, she has a mouse. To her surprise, it was not a mouse, but a beautiful baby serval. So much for the Sierra “Gay Boy” thing. Now, for something we did not want to happen, we would not take anything in this world for our new baby named “Sugarmint”. What makes this more of a surprise is I hold Peppermint in my arms every day and still did not know she was expecting a baby.

Now, we were on the phone with Bill and Diana Johnson and Lynn Culver about baby serval care. We have helped the Johnson’s bottle feed servals and bobcats from (2) weeks old to (7) weeks old at our home, but having a new born was new to us.

Since Peppermint is very mild and tame with us, we were going to try to leave Sugarmint with Peppermint well past the suggested 12 to 14 day period when you pull the kittens from the mother. We wanted Sugarmint have the mothers milk as long as possible and still have the Sugarmint bond with humans. We were going to try leaving Sugarmint with Peppermint three to four weeks.

Peppermint let us be with her and Sugarmint as much as we wanted and Sugarmint seemed comfortable with that and did not hiss at us. Things were working out well until the 11th. Day. On that day, every time we would go to Peppermint, she would pick up Sugarmint and carry him from the nest bed to us. Finally, we got concerned for the well fare of Sugarmint and pulled him from Peppermint. Very sad time for us as we hoped to prove that if you had a very mild mother and with some work we could leave the kitten with the mother lot longer than the 12 to 14 days and still have the kitten bond with humans.

I was a little disappointed in Peppermint not wanting to keep her baby. At the time, I was sure she didn’t want to just move her kitten but give it to us. Just after we pulled Sugarmint, Peppermint seamed very happy and loved on me and wanted to play. I was thinking how unusual for her to be so happy just after taking her kitten away from her.

I called Lynn and asked her about holding off not feeding Sugarmint for the first 24 hours so he would be hungry and readily take to the bottle. Lynn said to not force the bottle to Sugarmint the first 24 to 30 hours. Offer the bottle but do not force the bottle to him. Lynn said for the kitten to see the bottle as something positive, not something negative that first 24 to 30 hours.

Backing up a little here. When I first saw that Peppermint had just one kitten, I was a little concerned that Peppermint’s milk may dry up due to just one kitten. The reason I was concerned was that I was raised on a farm and some times when our pigs had their first born with only two or three piglets, the mother milk would dry up about in about seven days and we would have to pull the piglets and hand feed them.

Our surprise number two: Four hours after we took Sugarmint from his mother, we offered the bottle to him and he was hungry so he readily took to the bottle. I was not expecting him to take to the bottle that quick.

Our surprise number three: Later that night when I picked up Peppermint and was holding her and telling her she was not the best mommy for giving up her kitten, I notice her milk had tried up. Now I knew why she was trying to give her beautiful loving kitten to us. She could not feed her baby and wanted us to save her baby. With tears, I told her how good of a mommy she was to our little surprise, named Sugarmint.


Many thanks to Bob Turner for allowing the use of this article on ExoticCatz.com.com in cooperation with the Feline Conservation Federation. This article is copyrighted 2005 by Bob Turner, and originally appeared in the FCF Newsletter. All rights are reserved. FCF members receive a bi-monthly newsletter containing a wealth of articles like this one, and I highly recommend becoming an FCF member to learn more about exotic felines.



 

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