Photo of the Month: Fossa

By Megan Runquist Holmstedt

 

Female fossa; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

The fossa lives throughout the forests of Madagascar and on the small island of Saint Marie, located off Madagascar’s east coast. It is solitary, nocturnal, and due to its excellent climbing skills, it is just as at home in the trees as it is on the ground.

Though it may appear cat-like, the fossa is actually a cousin of the mongoose. This elusive creature can measure up to six feet in length from its nose to the tip of its long tail, which is used to balance while hunting among the tree branches. It also has excellent hearing, sight, and sense of smell, along with a set of fearsome teeth and short, protractile claws that allow it to grasp its prey and quickly ascend into the trees.

This carnivore is the top predator native to the island. The fossa’s favorite meal is lemur, which is caught mainly in the tree canopy, along with birds, reptiles, rodents, and most other creatures it can get its claws on.

The L.A. Zoo’s fossa can be found in the roundhouse across from the Grevy’s zebras’ yard.