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fossa, carnivorous mammal, Cryptoprocta ferox, of Madagascar. The island's largest carnivore, the fossa resembles a puma in appearance and has semiretractable claws, but it is most closely related to Madagascar's other native carnivores and to the mongoose and civet. Its slender body may be more than 5 ft (1.5 m) long including the tail, which makes up about half of the total length, and the largest males may weigh as much as 26 lb (12 kg). The female is somewhat smaller. The coat is generally reddish brown above and cream below.
The fossa is found in both humid and dry forests and is an agile climber. A generally solitary animal, it preys on lemurs, wild pigs, and other mammals as well as fish and birds; it hunts by ambush. During mating season several males compete for a female, who rests high in a tree; the tree may be used for mating, and then used as a mating ground by another female when the first leaves. There are two to four young in a litter. The young are blind and helpless when born, and remain the mother for about a year and a half. Largely because of habitat destruction, the fossa is endangered.
The fossa is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Eupleridae.
fossa(foss -ă) (plural: fossae) a long narrow shallow depression. The word is used in the approved name of such a surface feature on a planet or satellite.
(Cryptoprocta ferox), a predatory mammal of the family Viverridae. The body measures as much as 76 cm in length and as much as 37 cm in height; the tail measures approximately 65 cm in length. The fossa, the largest predator of the island of Madagascar, has a massive body with relatively long, thick extremities and semiretractile claws. It somewhat resembles a cat, but the head is longer. The fur is short, smooth, and reddish brown.
The fossa inhabits forests and feeds on birds and small mammals. It is terrestrial but may climb trees when chasing lemurs. It is active at night. The animal attacks domestic fowl and young domestic swine.