Saturday, November 17, 2012


Fossa | The fossa is a cat-like carnivorous predator native to the largest African island of Madagascar. The fossa is the largest predator on Madagascar and therefore has no real natural predators apart from the human and the occasional crocodile that swims astray. The fossa tends be less than a meter in length with the tail of the fossa being about that the same length as the body of the fossa. However, in recent years fossils of the now extinct giant fossa has been uncovered in the jungles of Madagascar, the biggest giant fossa fossil measured nearly six meters in length and was thought to have weighed around 17 kg!

Despite the fossa being such a dominant predator, the fossa population has been severely threatened by the destruction of enormous chunks of the Madagascan jungle. Many animals native to Madagascar however, are all facing the same problem. The fossa is an incredibly agile animal and can often be seen leaping through the tree tops, normally in pursuit of the favourite meal of the fossa, the lemur. More than half of the diet of the fossa comprises of wild lemur, but as the fossa is highly carnivorous, the rest of the diet of the fossa is made up of other small mammals, birds and reptiles.

The fossa is well known for its fierce and dominant approach to hunting as it is extremely rare that the intended prey of the fossa will successfully escape! The fossa can run unbelievably quickly and added to the incredible agility of the fossa in the tree tops, once a meal has been spotted, the fossa is very adept at then catching it. Despite the cat-like appearance of the fossa (some compare the fossa to the clouded leopard found in Southeast Asia), the fossa is actually believed to be most closely related to the mongoose, a smaller weasel like mammal found in more arid parts of Africa.

Fossa breeding tends to occur during the months of September and October when the female fossas attract a large number of male fossas in order to find the best mate. Baby fossas are born both toothless and blind and these baby fossas are dependent on the mother fossa for their first year, however, the baby fossa will remain in their nest until they are at least four months old.

Fossas spend most of their time in trees, either sleeping during the day and hunting by night. Although, this nocturnal lifestyle of the fossa is not believed to be the same with all fossa individuals as some are active both day and night depending on the area in which the fossa is in, and the food that is available. The time of the year also seems to play a part in this fossa behaviour. Fossas have also been known to hunt on the ground, where the fossa walks with their palms flat on the ground like bears rather than on their toes like cats. The fossa is mostly solitary except during the breeding season.

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