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Fossa © MNHN - F-G Grandin

The fossa

The fossa, Cryptoprocta ferox, is Madagascar’s largest carnivorous mammal and most formidable predator.


Class, order and family :
Mammalia, Carnivora, Eupleridae
Life span :
up to 20 years in captivity
Size & Weight :
around 35 cm (shoulder height) and 5 - 10 kg
Gestation period :
3 months - 2-4 cubs
Natural habitat :
dry forests, woodland savanna
Diet :
carnivore - lemurs, small vertebrates
Native region :
Statut UICN : 

Vulnerable (VU)


The fossa feeds mainly on lemurs and tenrecs (hedgehog-like species), and hides in trees.
When a female is in heat, she chooses a tree where several males will come to court her. Only one will mate with her on the end of a branch. This tree is often the same one from year to year. Female fossas have litters of 2 to 4 young, which they raise alone.

Distinctive features

Looking at its semi-retractable claws and its tail which it uses for balancing, the fossa could be mistaken for a member of the cat family. But this is not the case for, contrary to appearance, it belongs to the Eupleridae family which includes the eight carnivores of Madagascar.


Wild populations are still hunted by farmers as pests and threatened by intensive deforestation and competition from imported and invasive carnivores. This species is classified as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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