DO You Know?

4 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

• Fossa’s scientific name means ‘hidden anus’. It comes from Greek words ‘crypto’ (hidden) and procta (anus). The fossa's species name, ferox, refers to its exaggerated reputation for ferocity.

• Fossas are the top predator in Madagascar. Fossas hunt during both day and night, and can hunt prey from both ground and trees. Lemurs make up a good deal of their diets, but they also eat small mammals, fish, lizards, birds, frogs, and insects.

• Their classification has been complicated. The fossa has features in common with three different families of carnivores: Herpestidae (mongooses), Viverridae (civets and their relatives), and Felidae (cats).

• Fossas are mainly solitary. With the exception of mothers with young and brief pairings during the breeding season, fossas are solitary animals. They patrol and defend territories as large as four square kilometers.

• An exception was recorded in 2009, when scientists observed three male fossas cooperatively hunting a sifaka for 45 minutes. After they caught the prey, they shared it. The scientists believe this behavior may be a vestige of the cooperative hunting that would have been necessary to take down larger lemurs.

• Fossas communicate largely through scent glands. Both males and females occupy territories that they mark with secretions from glands on their chests and under the base of their tails. Fossas mark rocks, trees, and ground to communicate and keep track of each other. Their glands also release a pungent smell when the animal is irritated or frightened.