Facts about fossa
A fossa is one of the most interesting animals. Generally speaking, it looks like a hybrid of a cat, a dog, a weasel, a monkey, and a mongoose. It is an endemic species of Madagascar that favors lemurs most of all. It is fast and slender, thus observing one in the wild proves to be challenging.
1A fossa is an endemic mammal of Madagascar.
It resembles a dog (thanks to its muzzle), a weasel (due to its ears), a cat (due to clawed paws), and a monkey (thanks to a tail that makes up approximately half of the fossa’s length).
2Its scientific classification has been widely disputed.
Fossa convergently evolved many features common to the family Felidae, but on the other hand, it shares traits with the family Herpestidae, and family Viverridae. Recent studies placed fossa as a member of the family Eupleridae, and a close relative of the Malagasy civet.
3Their genus name–Cryptoprocta–derives from ancient Greek and means hidden anus (crypto-hidden, procta-anus). The latter part, ferox, means fierce or wild.
Their anus is hidden in an anal pouch, which is an unusual trait.
4Fossa's natural habitat is the forests of Madagascar.
5Typically fossa measures up to 80 centimeters with a tail of 68 to 89 centimeters.
6Males are larger than females.
Their average weight ranges between 6 and 10 kg, and females between 5 and 7 kg.
7It is dark brown with a golden hue.
8It is an apex predator.
It is the largest carnivore in Madagascar.
9Their prey of choice is the aye-aye.
Fossa feeds on anything it can lay its paws on, but the most preferable are lemurs.
10Fossa reaches sexual maturity at the age of three to four years old.
11It is a female that chooses her potential mate. Or mates.
Female during the mating season awaits in a high spot on a tree for males to compete with each other. Once the fight is over, she chooses one or several mating partners and mates for the next week. When she is done, the next female takes over the site.
12Female gives birth to two to four young per litter annually.
Young are born after three months of gestation.
13Young fossas became fully independent after about a year.
14The fossa can climb up the trees and jump from branch to branch.
It uses its long tail to maneuver freely among the branches. It also climbs down the trees head-first.
15Fossas are highly territorial.
Their territory covers an area of four square kilometers.
16They are mostly solitary.
Groups are formed only for mating purposes.
17There are some cases of fossas hunting together.
Scientists believe it is a remnant of the past when Madagascar was inhabited by a much larger prey than it is nowadays, and thus required a cooperative effort from predators.
18They are both diurnal and nocturnal.
19It can reach a maximum speed of 55 kph.
20Fossas communicate with each other through scent.
They mark trees, rocks, and even the ground with secretion from glands located under their tails and on their chests.
21It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUNC list.
It suffers from habitat loss since only approximately 10% of the forest cover of Madagascar is still intact. Their meat is also commonly consumed in several villages across the island. Currently, their population is estimated at 2,500 individuals.