There are several wildcats around the world. An outstanding one among them is the Fossa (Cryptotecta forex)! This wild cat type animal is actually related to a mongoose and a civet. It has a wild cat body and a monkey tail. Wondering why this is a weird fusion? Let me walk you through their evolution.
Fossa is a mammal with cat behavior. However, their body features are related to mongoose and civet. Fossae and mongooses share the same ancestors. A fossa measures between 27 to 31 inches (less than 3 feet) long without including the tail. Its coat is short and dense, and is in a rich brown color with a gold tinge and a light colored belly. A fossa’s tail is very long, measuring from 26” to 28” (65 to 70 cm), which makes up half of its body weight. It looks prehensile, but its not. A mature fossa weighs from 12 to 15 lbs. (5.5 to 6.8 kg) for females and 13 to 19 lbs. (6.2 to 8.6 kg). Its long tail is conducive for balance, while it jumps and climbs.
The fossa is a mysterious rare animal. Interestingly, there are several legends fabricated around the fossa. Some say a fossa can contract its eye pupils to disappear completely. Most reflect the fossa as a cunning animal with devious nature. Another figment of imaginations are fossa goes into homes and steals babies from their cribs and a fossa’s saliva can put a human to deep trance allowing fossa to kill and eat.
The fossa is the main predator of Madagascar because it was marooned on the island for millions of years. It is a very intelligent, agile animal with retractable claws and ankle joints that twist and turn 180°. It is an excellent hunter and hunts small animals like fish, birds and wild pigs, but 50% of its diet are lemurs. It can outmaneuver the swiftest lemur; it can jump, scurry, dash, revealing a tawny blur. They’ve also been known for their teamwork on catching lemurs. A fossa uses its claws and forelimbs to catch its prey and kills with its sharp teeth bite in a flash.
A fossa is a solitary animal and its home ranges rarely overlap. They communicate using their scent. They vocalize only during breeding and nurturing. A fossa is ready to start its own family when it is about four years old. A mother usually gives birth to 4-6 cubs in a hole. They are white-haired and their eyes are closed when they are born. Their eyes open for the first time when
the pup is 2-3 weeks old which is also the time their fur begins to darken. They don’t leave the den until 4-5 months and further they rely on
their mother for another 8 months. They make a mewling sound to get their mother’s attention. They finally leave when the pup is 2 years old, and it can eat meat by then. They don’t meet until the breeding season in late fall.
The fossa is a very endangered wildcat. It has threats for extinction. The f ossa is very
important to the environment, so Madagascar's wildlife population is balanced. The biggest threat it's facing is the destruction of its habitat. They also have to compete with species like civets and diseases like rabies. The fabricated stories is yet another hurdle the fossa's face with the villagers. In Madagascar, fossae rely on lemurs and lemurs rely on the habitat on the food chain. With the threat of Madagascar’s habitat degradation, these animals are highly threatened.
Fossae aren’t alone though, ecotourism is aiding their preservation! Ecotourism is where people visit Madagascar's forests and admire them. With the money made, people are speaking out about the devastation of forests and stopping them from being destroyed.
Tip: Fossae is the plural form for Fossa.
Image Courtesy: Flickr.com
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