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Animal Data > Fossa

(Cryptoprocta ferox)

Status Distribution Sexually Mature
Endangered Madagascar 3 - 4 years
Number of Young Gestation Life Span
3 90 days 20 years

The fossa lives in the forests and woodland savannah of Madagascar, from coastal lowlands to mountainous areas of 2,000 meters. It is mainly nocturnal, often sheltering in caves during the day.

The fossa mainly eats small mammals and birds, but will also take reptiles, frogs and insects. It is an excellent climber, and when hunting lemurs will chase them through the trees.

The fossa is a solitary animal, apart from during the mating season. The young are born in January or February, and are independent by 4 - 6 months old.

The fossa is a powerful predator, but it has an exaggerated reputation of savagery and destructiveness. It will normally flee at the sight of a human, though may be dangerous if wounded. It is unpopular in some areas of Madagascar as it tends to prey on chickens.

Main Features

The fossa is the largest carnivore in Madagascar. It has short, smooth, reddish-brown fur. The claws are short, curved, sharp and retractable. Fossas walk on the soles of their feet, like bears, rather than on their toes, like cats.

In Captivity

The fossa exhibit at Marwell opened in February 2000. It consists of 2 houses each with separate dens, and 3 enclosures - one undercover to give exercise space in bad weather. There is a narrow stream running through the enclosure.

The fossa is fed a variety of meat, mainly beef and rabbit. The meat is dusted with a powdered supplement to provide additional nutrients.

Behavioural enrichment is important as the fossa is an active animal. Food is hidden around the enclosure, sometimes being hoisted up onto poles, so that the fossa has to search and climb for it.

©2009 Marwell Wildlife