A serval cat and an ostrich are the two “dangerous wild animals” that call Powys home, a freedom of information request has revealed.

The exact locations of where the non-native animals are kept is not known, but they are subject to restrictions under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, a law that came into effect almost 50 years ago.

Our sister title, The County Times, put in a freedom of information (FOI) request to the local authority earlier this week to find out if, and how many and what types, of exotic animals are living in the county.

Powys County Council (PCC) said it is aware of a male serval cat and a male ostrich licensed with a Dangerous Animal License, living in Powys.

SERVAL CAT

The National Wales:

The serval is a wild cat native to Africa. It is rare in North Africa and the Sahel, but widespread in sub-Saharan countries, except rainforest regions.

The serval is a slender, medium-sized cat that stands 54-62 cm (21-24 inches) at the shoulder and weighs 9-18 kg (20-40 lb). It is characterised by a small head, large ears, a golden-yellow to buff coat spotted and striped with black, and a short, black-tipped tail. The serval has the longest legs of any cat relative to its body size.

The serval is a solitary carnivore and active both by day and at night. It preys on rodents, particularly vlei rats, small birds, frogs, insects and reptiles, using its sense of hearing to locate prey.

Occasionally, it also hunts larger prey such as duikers, hares, flamingos and young antelopes. It leaps over 2 metres above the ground to land on the prey on its forefeet, and finally kills it with a bite on the neck or the head.

The serval is vulnerable to hyenas and African wild dogs.

OSTRICH

The National Wales: A male ostrich is being kept in Powys, says the local authority. PA Photo/iStock.

There are two living species of ostrich: the common ostrich and the Somali ostrich. They are large flightless birds who lay the largest eggs of any living land animal.

With the ability to run at 70 km/h (43.5 mph), they are the fastest birds on land.

Ostriches are notable for being the heaviest living birds; common ostriches usually weigh from 63 to 145 kilograms (139-320lbs), or as much as one to two adult humans.

Today, ostriches are only found natively in the wild in Africa, in a range of open arid and semi-arid habitats such as savannas and the Sahel.

READ MORE: 

The common ostrich's diet consists mainly of plant matter, though it also eats invertebrates and small reptiles. It lives in nomadic groups of 5-50 birds.

When threatened, the ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground or running away. If cornered, it can attack with a kick of its powerful legs. Mating patterns differ by geographical region, but territorial males fight for a harem of 2 to 7 females.

Animals that prey on ostriches may include cheetahs, lions, leopards, African hunting dogs and spotted hyenas. Common ostriches can often outrun most of their predators in a pursuit, so most predators will try to ambush an unsuspecting bird using obstructing vegetation or other objects. A notable exception is the cheetah, however, adult ostriches are generally avoided by most predators.

Dangerous Wild Animals Act

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act was brought into force in the UK in 1976, to deal with the increasing fashion of people in the late-1960s and early 70s keeping interesting pets which were often from the more dangerous species, as well as hybrids between wild and domestic species, such as wolfdogs and Bengal cats.

It became an increasing concern for public safety for the average citizen to be able to acquire a potentially dangerous animal without some form of regulatory control.

Its purpose was to ensure that if private individuals keep dangerous wild animals, they do so in circumstances which do not create a risk to the public, and which safeguard the welfare of the animals.

The Act covers an extensive list, including many primates, carnivores, larger or venomous reptiles, dangerous spiders and scorpions.

Other banned animals include the Tasmanian devil, bears, camels, elephants, walrus, aardvark, giant armadillo, giant anteater, hyenas, moose and caribou.

Keeping such animals without a licence is unlawful and the state is also allowed to specify where and how the animal is to be kept. This law also requires keepers to have their animals covered by a satisfactory liability insurance policy.

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.