A relative of the mongoose, the fossa is unique to the forests of Madagascar. Growing up to 6 feet long and weighing up to 12 kilograms, the fossa is a slender-bodied catlike creature.It is the largest carnivore and top predator native to Madagascar and is known to feed on lemurs, wild pigs and mice. Unlike mongooses, and more like felines, the fossa has retractable claws and fearsome catlike teeth. Its coat is reddish brown and its muzzle resembles that of a dog.The fossa is also equipped with a long tail that comes in handy while hunting and maneuvering amongst the tree branches. The elusive fossa is a solitary animal and spends its time both in the trees and on the ground and is active at night. Females give birth to an annual litter of two to four young, and adulthood is reached after about three years.
Madagascar is home to an enormous variety of plant and animal life, and a number of species are unique to the island—including over 30 species of lemur, the fossa’s prey of choice. Explorers first arrived on the island some 2,000 years ago, and scientists believe that they would have been met by a bizarre assemblage of now-extinct beasts, including lemurs the size of gorillas and a ten-foot-tall flightless bird.
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.