Category: Animals Other
Facts about Fossa Cat-like, "Scientific name for Fossa is Cryptoprocta ferox". The Fossa is a major predator on the island of Madagascar. Genetic testing in 2003 showed that the Fossa was uniquely related to all other carnivores on Madagascar that were not imported by humans, with a distant relationship to the Herpestidae family. The Fossa is most closely related to the Malagasy civet, more distantly to mongooses in Africa and Asia. The scientific name was assigned by Charles Telfair and Edward Turner Bennett in 1833.
All in a Name
The Fassa are part of the cryptoprocta genus, the eupleridae family, and carnivore order. While it was long thought to be a member of the cat family, it is actually more closely related to mongooses.
The name Fossa either comes from the Malay world for weasel or posa, an Iban word for cat.
The Fossa have a cat like face, long mongoose-like body, brown eyes. Their fur is short, dense, and red or brown, without any patterns like stripes or spots. Almost black and white Fossas have been reported. The Fossa are the largest predator native to Madagascar. Some of the Fossa can grow up to six feet long, from nose to tip of the tail.
Fossa weighs up to 22 pounds (10 kg). The tail of a Fossa makes up half of its length. Their tails are long and monkey-like, providing balance as they jump between tree limbs.
The Fossa paws are similar to the claws of a cat, curved and retractable, an adaptation to filling the same ecological niche as a cat, though it is more closely related to the civet or mongoose. This adaptation is similar to the fossil remains of saber tooth tigers and the parallel evolution of South American marsupials with the same long teeth for seizing and disemboweling prey. Like the cat, Fossas also have slightly webbed feet. There was also parallel marsupial and mammal evolution for wolves, moles, and flying squirrels.
Mother Fossa give birth to one to six young after a three month pregnancy. The Fossa young stay with the mother for up to a year after birth. The young are sexually mature at four years of age. Except for mating and mothers with young, Fossas are solitary. All Fossas are nocturnal. It is thought they live fifteen to twenty years in the wild.
Fossas are very adept hunters and quick on their feet, moving up to 30 miles an hour in short bursts.
The Fossa predators live only on Madagascar; their lineage probably traces back 24 million years, making them one of the oldest species native to the islands. Fossas live in the dense forests and need a large territory to support themselves. Since humans arrived on the island around two thousand years ago, clear-cutting of the forest for farming began. The Fossa’s greatest threat is habitat loss. Fossas were killed by some farmers who were afraid these creatures will kill their livestock, but that is unlikely except for chickens and small pigs. It mostly eats frogs, lizards, birds, rodents and lemurs, the primitive monkey-like creatures also native only to Madagascar. Fossas are sometimes eaten by crocodiles.
While the six foot long the Fossa is endangered. A Fossil was found of a giant Fossa that was 18 feet long and 50 pounds.
The native Malagasy population is a mixture of African/Bantu and Indonesian/Polynesian. From the Polynesian tradition, they carried on the tradition of taboo. For many Malagasy, the Fossa is taboo, not allowed to be killed or eaten.