Threat: Vunerable (IUCN)
This cat-like predator is closely related to the mongoose family. It has semi-retractable claws and flexible ankles that allow it to run up and down trees hunting lemurs, rodents and reptiles.
Adults have a head-body length of 80 cm plus a tail length of 90cm. Males can weigh up to 15kg and females around 8kg.
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Fossas communicate largely through scent glands. Both males and females occupy territories that they scent mark with secretions from glands on their chests and under the base of their tails. Fossas mark rocks, trees, and the ground to communicate and keep track of each other. Their glands also release a pungent smell when the animal is irritated or frightened.
Fossas are seasonal breeders and in the wild, several males compete for the mating rights of the female. Mating takes place on a branch high up in the tree, which has been specially selected by the female. The same tree will often be used for successive years by other females.
Pregnancy lasts for 60 days after which a maximum of 6 pups can be born. The pups remain with the mother for up to two years and become sexually mature at four years old.
Fossas are generally solitary except during the breeding season and when mothers are raising their pups. The Fossa diet is known to include most animals in the forests it inhabits, including smaller lemur species, rodents and reptiles. Fossas sometimes scavenge on bodies buried in shallow graves in the forest.