Fossas are superficially cat-like carnivorans from Madagascar. In appearance and overall body shape, they look much like a miniature cougar, although they have a relatively longer muzzle and are a darker brown in color. These animals are well adapted to tree-climbing, with a long tail for balance, semi-retractable claws, flexible ankles that allow grasping tree trunks and hanging upside down, and a gait that changes from plantgrade in the trees to digitigrade on the ground. Completing their overall cat-like impression, fossas can purr, although they use it as a threat rather than a sign of contentment. Fear is indicated by repeated loud inhalations, yelps may be used to attract nearby fossas, and females in heat may mew.
Fossas are sparesly distributed through all of Madagascars forests and woodlands. They are active both day and night (cathemeral). Fossas are entirely carnivorous, and are the only Malagasy predator capable of taking large lemurs. They also prey on birds, rodents, reptiles, and insects. On rare occasions, fossas have been observed to hunt large lemurs cooperatively.
An extinct species of giant fossa Cryptoprocta spelea once stalked Madagascar. It vanished sometime after humans first arrived on the island, circa 350 BCE. This giant fossa probably preyed on the giant lemurs that lived on Madagascar at the time.
The creature with the common name "fossa" and the scientific name Cryptoprocta ferox should not be confused with the creature with the common name "fanaloka" but the scientific name Fossa fossana - although related, they are quite different in habits and character.
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