10 Cool things about the fossa

1.Is he a cat or is he a monkey?

He may look very cat-like and sport a long monkey-like tail, but the fossa’s closest relatives are members of the mongoose and civet families. The fossa is the only animal in the group called cryptoprocta

2.Madagascar

We’re actually talking about the country – and the movie! Yes, those scary fossas who make Marty, Alex, Melman and Gloria’s lives a misery on the island really do exist! The fossa (pronounced foo-sa) of Madagascar is a native resident of the rainforests on the island. His forest home is under threat and although he has no natural predators in the wild, the fossa is an endangered species.

3.Strange Appearance

The fossa is a rather odd-looking, muscular mammal. He has both canine and feline characteristics. The fossa has a short, rust-coloured coat and a long, slim body. Their total body length is under a metre, but his very long tail makes him appear larger. Male fossas are bigger than females. Photo: worldswildlifewonders

4.Cat-like features

The fossa’s face is very cat-like, with long whiskers and a short muzzle. They also have round ears and huge eyes for their head size. Their claws are retractile and are used for tree climbing and hunting

5.Hunter extraordinaire

The fossa is an outstanding hunter who uses ambush tactics to catch prey. He’ll grab his prey using his front legs and claws and kill it quickly by cutting off the air supply with his sharp teeth and powerful jaws. He also has keen hearing, eyesight and a good sense of smell

6.Malagasy carnivores

The fossa is the largest carnivore in the Madagascar forest. He preys on lemurs and other primates found on the island – so in the movie, King Julien and his crowd are right to be afraid of these guys! In fact, lemurs make up about 50% of the fossa diet! The fossa will also snack on small mammals, as well as birds and fish. They may target livestock in close proximity to their habitat.

7.Policing his territory

Fossas enjoy a large territory. They prefer dense forested areas where they can hide in trees. They protect their territories by scent-marking on trees. Females generally have a smaller territory than the males, but are very protective of their territories, especially from other females. The males become every aggressive during the breeding season. Photo: poeticpenguin

8.Forrest forays

The fossa is a nimble tree climber who spends plenty of time high in the branches. Fossas are quick and agile both on the ground and in the trees. The fossa has a plantigrade walking style, meaning that the soles of his feet come into contact with the ground as he walks, like us humans, bears, raccoons and rats. Animals like cats, who walk on their toes, have a digitigrade walking style. Photo: Nataliia Melnychuk

10.Day or night

Scientists used to believe that the fossa was a nocturnal cat because they are rarely seen, but research suggests that they are neither diurnal nor nocturnal and will hunt when  they feel like it. Photo: costas anton dumitrescu

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