The largest Madagascan carnivore, the fossa resembles a cat as much as a viverrid and has a rounded, catlike head, but with a longer muzzle. Its body is slender and elongate and its hind legs are longer than its forelegs, which raises the animal’s rear. The tail is long and the coat reddish-brown. Its catlike physique in fact resulted in it once being classified as part of the felid order.

This is the largest carnivore in Madagascar. It is an excellent climber and is equally agile in trees and on the ground. It hunts by leaping through the trees to prey on small animals.

Fossas sometimes attack domestic animals, and are often killed as pests by people, who also unnecessarily fear that the fossas may attack them. This persecution means that fossas have become very rare, like much of Madagascar's native wildlife.

Fossas walk in a flat-footed manner on their soles, like bears, rather than on their toes, like cat and dogs.

Fossas only spend time with other members during the breeding season, which is between September and October. The females give birth three months later, in the height of summer. She cares for them alone. The young are born with their eyes closed and they open at between 16 and 25 days. They are weaned at 4 months and are fully grown and independent at 2 years, although they do not reach sexual maturity for another 2 years.

Distribution: Madagascar.

Habitat: Forests.

Food: Rodents, birds, frogs, reptiles and young lemurs.

Size: 61 - 80 cm (24 - 32 in); 7 - 12 kg (15.5 - 26.5 lb).

Maturity: 4 years.

Breeding: Twins born once per year.

Life span: 17 years.

Status: Endangered.