Fossas are the largest carnivores in Madagascar.
They are native only to the island nation of Madagascar.
Secretive and cat-like, these predators are well equipped for chasing down lemurs in the forest.
Little is known about fossas, mostly because there aren’t many of them, and they live in remote, forested areas.
Average life span in the wild is 15 years and up to 20 years in zoos.
Its coat is reddish brown and its muzzle resembles that of a dog.
They are from 70 to 80 centimeters (27 to 31 inches) long + tail length which is from 65 to 70 centimeters (26 to 31 inches).
Females weight from 5.5 to 7 kilograms (12 to 15 pounds) and males from 6 to 8.5 kilograms (13 to 19 pounds)
The fossa is an intelligent, agile animal that moves with ease high up in the trees of its forest home.
That very-long tail helps the fossa balance and jump from branch to branch.
The elusive fossa is a solitary animal and spends its time both in the trees and on the ground.
Until recently, it was believed that fossas were nocturnal because they were so hard to find in the wild.
Recent studies show that fossas nap and hunt day or night, depending on mood or circumstance.
A fossa can travel up to 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) in a day.
They patrol and defend territories as large as 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles).
Lemurs are its main food source for fossa but they also eat: fish, lizards, birds, mice, and wild pigs.
The fossa is an ambush hunter; it uses its forelimbs and claws to catch its prey, killing it quickly with abite from its sharp teeth.
Fossas use scent to communicate and keep track of each other, scent marking trees, rocks, or even just the ground with scent glands on the chest and under the base of the tail.
They also make several kinds of sounds. Fossas mainly vocalize during the breeding season. Females mew to attract males, males howl and yowl when competing for a female. A fossa may roar to intimidate a fellow fossa or in defense.
Fossas are ready to start their first family when they are about 4 years old.
Fossas only come together to mate during the breeding season in September and October.
The mother makes a den in a place like an old termite mound, a rock crevice, underground den, or the hollow of a tree.
After a gestation period that lasts for around 3 months, the female Fossa gives birth to 2 – 6 cubs that are very underdeveloped at birth and do not open their eyes until they are between 2 and 3 weeks old.
Fossa pups make a purring sound when nursing or near their mother.They also make a high-pitched noise called mewling to get the mother’s attention.
The pups develop slowly and don’t leave the den for about 4 to 5 months; they are dependent on their mother for another 8 months.
Young Fossas take almost 2 years to grow to their adult size.
The fossa is closely related to the mongoose.
Their cat-like body makes people very surprised to learn that it is actually related to the mongoose and civets but not the cat.
Until recently, scientists had mistaken the cat-like fossa for a primitive kind of cat.
Unlike its mongoose relative, this species has many features that make it seem like a cat such as retractable claws and catlike sharp teeth.
Locals pronounce the name “foo-sa” and “foosh.”
There is no exact estimate of how many fossa live in the wild but experts believe there are less than 2,500 animals left. Research indicates that the population is continuing to decline.
Presently, fossas are endangered creatures due to habitat loss. Less than ten percent of Madagascar’s original, intact forest cover, the fossa’s only home, remains today.
In recent years fossils of the now extinct Giant Fossa has been uncovered in the jungles of Madagascar, with the biggest Giant Fossa fossil measured nearly 6 meters (19.6 feet) in length.