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Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) Fact Sheet: Summary

Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) Fact Sheet


Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Suborder: Feliformia

Family: Eupleridae

Genus: Cryptoprocta

Species: Cryprocta ferox (Bennet, 1833) - Fossa 

Body Weight
Male: 6.2-8.6 kg (13.7-19.0 lb)
Female: 5.5-6.8 kg (12.1-15.0 lb)

Head & body (male & female): 70-80 cm (2.3-2.6 ft)
Tail (male & female): 65-70 cm (2.1-2.3 ft)
Total length (male & female): c. 140 cm (4.6 ft)

Sepia brown or reddish-brown with underparts of a dirty cream color. Secretions from ventral glands give an orange appearance in males and juveniles.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Madagascar, present only in small forest “islands” in the country’s interior.

Forest dwellers; found in rainforests, savoka (humid forests), montane forests, and spiny desert forests.  Most often found in intact forests but will Inhabit fragments in close proximity to an intact forest.

IUCN Status: Vulnerable (2015 assessment)

CITES Status: Appendix II

Population in Wild
Estimated 2,600-8,600 (total population)

Quadrupedal; equally comfortable on the ground and in the trees. They will leap from branch to branch and cover long distances on the ground.

Activity Cycle
Generally most active at night but also active in daylight. Daytime activity declines in the hours after dawn and even further at midday.

Social Groups
Females are solitary; males live alone or in small groups.

Lemurs often compose >50% of prey items.  Other prey include tenrec, rodents, snakes, birds, lizards, and amphibians.


Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity
c. 3-4 years of age

6-8 weeks generally observed.

Litter Size
2-4 cubs typical

Interbirth Interval
3-4 years (one estimate)

Birth Weight
c. 100 g (3.5 oz)

Age at Weaning
First leave the den after 4.5 months, weaning follows

Typical Life Expectancy
No reported

Featured Facts:

  • Madagascar's largest native carnivore
  • Resembles a small puma
  • It's tail assists with balance and braking while leaping and moving between trees
  • hunts arboreal lemurs as prey of choice
  • IUCN status classified as vulnerable
  • Four Fossa pups born at the San Diego Zoo in June of 2017


About This Fact Sheet

© 2015-2018 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. IUCN Status updated Sep 2018.

How to cite: Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) Fact Sheet. c2015. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. 
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to


We wish to thank Mandi Krebs for providing expert content review of this fact sheet.

Ms. Krebs began working with fossa in 2002 in preparation for opening the largest nocturnal exhibit in the world, Kingdoms of the Night at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. She created the first North American Regional Fossa Studbook in 2006 and is the AZA Fossa SSP Coordinator and Studbook Keeper.

She is currently the Interactive Animal Programs Manager at Omaha’s Zoo and still cares for the first fossa she ever met.

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