Fun Fossa Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 31, 2024 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fossa facts are interesting to learn.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.6 Min

Do you want to know about one of the world's most unique animals? If yes, then keep on reading about the fossas. These slender and stealthy animals call the island of Madagaskar their native home, and they are only found in its wilderness. One of the fun facts about Fossas is that they are closely related to the mongoose family. However, a fossa has a distinct look with their feline-like face, dog-like snout, and a long tail resembling that of a monkey. The long tail of a fossa helps them in hunting and to travel through Madagascar's tree covers. The forest is the home of this species belonging to the genus Cryptoprocta. Fossas love to prey on lemurs, and they used to hunt giant lemurs that are now extinct. As vulnerable animals, they have been toiling to keep up their numbers as humans have encroached into Madagascar's forests, taking away their beloved trees.

Find the animal interesting? Let us know a bit more about Fossas and their habits.

Fossa Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a fossa?

The fossa is a medium-sized cat-like animal found in Madagascar. They belong to the carnivorous family of Eupleridae, which are closely related to the mongoose family of Herpestidae. A fossa is also known for its long monkey-like tail, which can have a length alike to its body.

What class of animal does a fossa belong to?

Fossa or Cryptopocta ferox belongs to the class Mammalia and in the order Carnivora.

How many fossas are there in the world?

It is estimated that less than 2,500 fossas are alive inside the Masoala National Park and Midongy-Sud National Park of Madagascar. But, there is no extensive study to note the entire world's population of the fossas or even the exact number of present on the island.

Where does a fossa live?

Fossas are endemic to Madagascar and the fossa can be found in the tropical forests of the island. The fossa prefers to remain high up in the forest and climb from tree to tree.

What is a fossa's habitat?

There was a time when Fossas were categorized as nocturnal beings, but recent studies have found that they hunt during the day and at night. Fossas like to remain active according to their mood. The forest habitats on the island of Madagascar allow these animals to remain hidden from plain sight. However, due to habitat loss, only ten percent of the original habitat of forested areas populated by fossas remains standing today. Scientists have had a hard time researching fossa's lifestyle because of their fast nature.

Who do fossa live with?

Fossas are solitary beings, so they do not live with other fossas. However, they do have interactions during the mating season. Fossas use chirp, purr, and yelp to communicate; however, their most interesting tool of communication is their sweat glands. During the mating season, a Fossa's scent helps a probable partner to look for them. A fossa rubs their tail or chest on rocks, trees, or the ground to let other Fossas know about it. The scent can also be a hint to stay away from the territory of a particular fossa. A fossa cub does co-habit with its mother till one to two years after birth.

How long does a fossa live?

In the wild, a fossa can live for up to 15 years, however their lifespan hasn't been studied extensively. However, in captivity, like a zoo, the mammal carnivores Cryotoprocta ferox can live up to the age of 20 years.

How do they reproduce?

A fossa is a mammal species that breed once a year during the breeding season in the months of September and October. A unique characteristic of fossas is their external genitalia which are peculiar in both females and males. A female fossa creates a den in trees, a rock crevice, or even under the ground before giving birth to the cubs. During the breeding season, a group of fossas may also follow a ritual where several male fossas compete to mate with a single female fossa. Some fossas have even made dens in old termite mounds. The usual gestation period for a fossa is 93 days. A fossa pup remains in the den for three to four months before starting to explore the outside world. The fossa pups will remain with the females for one or two years before they move out of the home.

What is their conservation status?

In 2008, Cryptoprocta ferox, which is known by the common name fossa, was enlisted as a Vulnerable species in the IUCN Red List.

Fossa Fun Facts

What do fossa look like?

Fossas are known for their unique look and their short shining reddish-brown fur coat. Fossas are known for their feline-like facial features. However, their snouts have a similar shape to that of a dog, and they even have sharp claws to grip plants and trees. The species is also known for its monkey-like long tail that helps a fossa to travel from one tree to the next. A Fossa can have a tail that measures equal to the length of their head-body measurement. One of the interesting fossa animal facts is that they are closely related to the families of the mongoose and the civet. Fossas are the largest carnivore and top predator belonging to the Madagascar island. One of the most feline-like characteristics of Cryptoprocta ferox, or fossa, has to be their long whiskers. They even have cat-like retractable claws and sharp teeth, which is great for eating its favorite animal, Lemur. On noticing the paws of a fossa closely, you will see slight webbing, which helps them to grip on surfaces and then attach their claws to it.

Fossa facts for kids are interesting for knowing about a carnivore's diet.

How cute are they?

Fossas are extremely cute owing to their feline like appearance and their long monkeylike tail. Their small rounded ears and the shiny snout makes them look even cuter.

How do they communicate?

The main form of communication for a fossa is through the sweat glands that are present on their body. This stealthy top predator has sweat glands on its chest and under the base of its tail. Scent signals are useful for this species to mark their territory as well as to attract mates during the breeding season. Moreover, the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) can also communicate through chirp, purr, and yelp. The animals mainly used vocalized communication during the mating season, when the female carnivores do a mewing sound to attract male Fossas.

How big is a fossa?

A fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) can have a body length of 28-31 in (70-80 cm). Moreover, these species usually have the extreme tail length of 27-35 in (68 -89 cm), similar to that of their whole body. This leads to their total body length being close to 57-66 in (139-169 cm), adding to the slender characteristic of this animal. If we take the total length of a fossa, they are usually twice the average housecat size.

How fast can a fossa move?

Fossas are able to move at the average speed of 15 m/s or 56 km/hr. A fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) has features like a long tail and sharp claws that helps them to move through branches with ease especially in the wild. Scientists have had a hard time studying fossas because of their fast speed.

How much does a fossa weigh?

An adult Cryptoprocta ferox, having the common name fossa, can have a weight of 15.5-26.5 lb (7-12 kg). Female Fossas have a tendency to weigh less than their male counterparts.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for a female and a male among the fossa species.

What would you call a baby fossa?

A baby fossa is called a cub.

What do they eat?

The favorite source of food for the animals is lemur. Both fossas and lemurs have existed on the island of Madagascar for a long time. With their sharp teeth and retractable claws, the carnivores can hunt for lemurs irrespective of its size. In its native space, Fossas like to feed on rodents, reptiles, birds, fishes, and any other small mammals that they like. On getting close to the human habitat, Fossas can also prey on domestic habitat, which has led to a strained relationship between the species. Fossas are known to go hunting during the day or night, depending on their mood.

Are they dangerous?

As a wild animal, the fossas are quite stealthy in their approach. Fossas try to avoid humans as much as possible in their native habitat. In captivity, such as in a zoo, Fossas are known to be non-aggressive animals, and some even let the zoo keeper pet them. However, male fossas can get aggressive, especially during the mating season. Fossas may also behave aggressively in a zoo if too many of them are placed in the same enclosure. So, if you aren't a trained zoo keeper, it's better to stay away from the population of wild animals rather than to risk your life.

Would they make a good pet?

As the population of fossas currently have the status of being vulnerable, it is not possible to keep them as pets. However, fossas have been a part of the illegal pet trade in the past. Moreover, breeding of fossas is a hard task as they are solitary carnivores who are native to the island of Madagascar.

Did you know...

Before placing it in the family Eupleridae, fossa was assigned as a type of civet in the family Viverridae by taxonomists.

Fossas tend to expel a stinky substance from their sweatglands if they feel irritated or frightened.

Have you ever come across someone saying 'fossa bone'? In anatomy, fossa stands for a depression or hollow usually occurring in a bone.

Is the fossa endangered?

As of 2012, fossas was given the status of being Vulnerable animals under the IUCN Red List. They have a tough time surviving due to human encroachment. As fossa is endemic to Madagascar, their numbers cannot increase much if the forest cover of the island is hampered, and they aren't able to maintain a good diet. As one of the world's most unique animals, less than 2,500 fossas might be living in the Masoala National Park and Midongy-Sud National Park, making them extremely rare.  However, no extensive studies have been done to determine the correct population of these animals, so there is always a threat for them to be endangered.

Different types of fossas

Only one form of fossa, the Cryptoprocta ferox, is currently inhabiting the forests of Madagascar. However, once the Cryptoprocta spelea or giant fossa used to live on the island who are now extinct.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our fossa coloring pages.

Fossa Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Birds, reptiles, lemurs, fish, and small mammals

What Type of Animal were they?

Carnivore

Average Litter Size?

2-4

How Much Did They Weigh?

15.5-26.5 lb (7-12 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical forests

Where Do They Live?

madagascar

How Long Were They?

Body: 28-31 in (70-80 cm)Tail: 27-35 in (68-89 cm)‍

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Mammalia

Genus

Cryptoprocta

Family

Eupleridae

Scientific Name

Cryptoprocta ferox

What Do They Look Like?

Reddish brown with a lighter underbelly

Skin Type

Fur

What Are Their Main Threats?

habitat loss

What is their Conservation Status?

Vulnerable
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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