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The Serval is a fairly muscular, dog sized African wild cat. While doing research on them for other worldbuilding purposes, I began to think that these animals could make great hunting pets, if they had been domesticated.

So I have two questions; one, is it possible for a stone age civilization to domesticate the Serval? And two, if they were domesticated, could they be a viable hunting tool.

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    $\begingroup$ "The Savannah cat is a hybrid cat breed [...] a cross between a serval and a domestic cat [...] commonly compared to dogs in their loyalty." "They can also be trained to walk on a leash and to fetch." (Wikipedia) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 14 '18 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP, the problem seems to be breeding in the loyalty without domestic cats to begin with. I can see how it just might work with servals bread with rodent catchers but that would end up being a two step process and require the lack of the better choice (pack animals like wolves). $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Feb 14 '18 at 0:36
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Servals are solitary creatures that are highly territorial. Usually that means they make poor targets for human hunting companions (they much prefer to hunt on their own). Contrast this with dogs, who were most likely bred from wolves, who are pack animals. Check out this video for explanations on traits that make animals more domesticable.

Servals have a short lifespan (compared to humans), reach maturity fairly quickly, and are fairly intelligent (all traits that are helpful with domestication). There is no reason why they wouldn't be useful in vermin patrol, setting up shop near fields and grain stores to protect them from being eaten by rodents. That's how modern cats were domesticated.

This means that servals are probably able to be domesticated but would not do well as a hunting companion.

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No reason they couldn't be tamed over time, Cheetahs were tamed over 5000 years ago, lions and tigers do circus tricks.

As a hunter it would be loosed to go after small prey, because that is how it hunts, just as a falcon is sent after it's usual prey. You wouldn't use it to do a cooperative hunt like herding prey towards you etc,. It doesn't have those instincts.

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    $\begingroup$ Tamed != domesticated. You can find tamed tigers in circuses but we haven't bred them for use for humans. $\endgroup$ – Hans Z Feb 14 '18 at 2:25
  • $\begingroup$ @HansZ it's just a matter of degree, over time we could shape them any way we want, just look at dogs or cows $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Feb 14 '18 at 2:29
  • $\begingroup$ yes but certain characteristics makes it wildly impractical to domesticate cheetahs, especially for stone age civilizations $\endgroup$ – Hans Z Feb 14 '18 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ @HansZ I'm not saying it would be the best choice, just that it could be done..... wouldn't happen over night obviously $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Feb 14 '18 at 2:46
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    $\begingroup$ There is a book on this by anthropologist/ecologist/biologist Jared Diamond called Guns, Germs, and Steel. According to that book, only 14 animal species have ever been domesticated in all of human history, and it's not for a lack of trying. Quote "Domesticatable animals are all alike. Every undomesticatable animals is undomesticatable in it own way." $\endgroup$ – Hans Z Feb 14 '18 at 2:48

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