February 6, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday: The Fossa




You are probably thinking what is a Fossa? The Fossa (pronounced "foosh") is an extremely rare mammal that can only be found in Madagasgar. While the Fossa looks similar to a mountain lion it is actually more like the Mongoose.  It is the largest member of the Civet family as we'll as the largest mammal on Madagascar.   There are only about 3000 of these mammals alive today. They are endangered due to habitat loss. Only about 10% to 15% of Madagascar remains forest.  of Madagascar's original, intact forest cover, the Fossa's only home, remains today.
The Fossa is nocturnal just like the mongoose. There bodies are slender and they somewhat resemble that of a cats,they have very long tails, and their faces hold a similarity to the weasel. They have gray or brown fur and some can have patterned markings in different varieties. They also have big ears and big eyes. They walk on the soles of there feet just like bears. They have retractile claws and long tails which aide them while hunting and maneuvering through the tree branches. 
  The Fossa, like all members of the Civet family have glands in a pouch near their rear ends which are used to produce scent. The scent helps them mark their territory and keep other Fossa out. The musky odor is also used to lure the females or males as the case may be. A bright yellow fatty acid is secreted from the glands and has been known to be used in perfumes. Hunters will capture or kill the animal for its natural perfume. The Fossa is also hunted for its fur which is gray or brown with dark spots or rings around its tail. It is about 3 feet long, not including it's tail which can be up to 22 inches and weighs about 25 pounds.  
The male Fossa is larger then the female of the species. Being that Fossa are very private animals we don't know that much about their daily rituals or habits. They wield their tails like a tightrope and move so fast in the trees that scientists have trouble observing them. The 
carnivorous Fossa eats almost anything he can scavenge for, from small mammals to insects and birds.  If a Fossa could eat just one thing for the rest of its life, it would eat Lemurs. The 
Fossa sneaks up on the Lemur while it is asleep.

 They lead solitary lives except during mating. They breed once a year but have been known to have 2 litters. The gestation period for a Fossa is about 60 days or 2 months.  They have between 2 and 6 babies who are born covered in fur, with eyes closed, and no teeth.   A Fossa  is considered an adult at 3 years of age. Fossa's breed in September and October and if successful in about 60 days they will birth a baby in a tree or a den cave. The Fossa has no known predators, they are only preyed upon by humans because of their attacks on domestic livestock. 




Sources Used: 
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossa_(animal)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Fossa_(animal)

All pictures courtesy of Google Images


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