Biology and behaviour

Biology

Cryptoprocta ferox is the largest carnivore on Madagascar and has been described as having the appearance of a small cougar or a jaguarondi, thanks to its rounded ears, cat-like body and long tail (Nowak, 2005).

It grows to the following sizes:

  • head and body length: 610–800mm
  • tail: 610–800mm
  • shoulder height: 370mm
  • adult weight: 7–12kg

(Nowak, 2005)

Behaviour

Cryptoprocta ferox are solitary except during breeding season. They are usually nocturnal and crepuscular, although may occasionally be seen during the day (Kohncke, 1986), (Nowak, 2005).

Breeding

Cryptoprocta ferox breed in September–October (Kohncke, 1986).

They have an unusual mating system in which a single female will occupy a tree and mate with several males, sometimes repeatedly, over 1 or more days.

The same site is occupied for several days with females sequentially replacing each other. Cryptoprocta ferox have been observed to use the same tree as a traditional site for mating (Hawkins, 2009).

Gestation is approximately 3 months and young are born blind and toothless but furred (Kohncke, 1986). Litters range in size from 2 – 4 young (Nowak, 2005). The eyes open at 12 days old and they begin to eat solids at 90 days (Ewer, 1973).

The young leave the den after 4.5 months and are then weaned.

Sexual maturity is thought to occur at 4 years (Nowak, 2005).

See video footage of the fossa's breeding behaviour and a female fossa chasing off an unwanted male, on the Arkive website.

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Glossary
Crepuscular

Active at dawn and dusk.

Plantigrade

Walking with the podials and metatarsals flat on the ground.