The Malagasy Civet or Striped Civet (Fossa fossana) is native to and located throughout Madagascar only.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
Fossa fossana has a body length between 40 and 45 cm plus a tail that is 21 to 25 cm is length, with the female usually being longer. They weigh between 1.5 and 2 kg. with the male weighing more.
They have short, dense fur which is a brownish color and has 4 rows of dark spots running along the back. The ventral side is more lightly colored. The face resembles that of a fox, with a body about the size and shape of a house cat.
Range mass: 1.5 to 2 kg.
Range length: 40 to 45 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average basal metabolic rate: 5.02262 W.
Habitat and Ecology
Fossa fossana is found throughout most of Madagascar, from humid lowland forests to dryer higher elevations.
Habitat Regions: tropical
Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest ; scrub forest
Fossa fossana eat small mammals including rodents and tenrecs. They also feed on reptiles, frogs, small birds, and invertebrates including freshwater crabs.
They forage on the ground and in low trees and brush, and are usually active at night.
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods)
Fossa fossana fills the ecological niche most commonly filled by fox or cat like animals.
Malagasy civets have very few natural predators as adults, but young animals may be eaten by snakes, birds, and other predators. They are also sometimes preyed upon by dogs that have been introduced to madagascar, and they are hunted by humans for food.
Fossa fossana uses camoflauge and the fact that it is nocturnal to avoid predators.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Status: captivity: 21.4 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Fossa fossana form pairs around the time of mating, and each pair may have a home range of about a square mile during the mating season.
Mating System: monogamous
Mating occurs during August and September with a single young being born after three months. The young have a full coat of fur, and their eyes are open at birth. They walk around day three, eat meat after a month, and are weaned at two to three months.
Breeding season: August - September
Range number of offspring: 1 to 1.
Average gestation period: 3 months.
Range weaning age: 2 to 3 months.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); viviparous
Average birth mass: 67.5 g.
Average gestation period: 82 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 728 days.
The young stay with the parents until about one year of age, when they move on to find their own home ranges.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Vulnerable(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Vulnerable(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Vulnerable(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Insufficiently Known(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
The current listing is based on a suspected population decrease in a range larger or equal to 20% over the last 10 years, along with a decrease in the size and quality of the habitat. The decrease is furthered by trapping of the civets for food, and competition with the Small Indian Civet (Viverricula indica)
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
The Striped Civet is beneficial to humans because it is hunted for food. It is also a popular attraction for tourists who can photograph it rather easily because it can be attracted to bait stations.
Positive Impacts: food ; ecotourism
Previously, the Malagasy civet was placed in the subfamily Hemigalinae with the banded palm civets and then in its own subfamily, Fossinae, but it is now classified as a member of the subfamily Euplerinae. It has also been classified Fossa fossa. It should not be confused with the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), a similar animal also endemic to Madagascar. Nor is it the same as the related—and similarly named—Malagasy carnivore the falanouc, which is also a euplerine.
It is a small mammal: about 47 cm excluding the tail (which is only about 20 cm) and 2.5 kg. It has the appearance and movements of a small fox. It has a short coat greyish beige in colour, with dark black horizontal stripes running from head to tail, where the stripes are vertical, wrapping around the bushier tail. The stripes morph into spots near the belly. Its legs are short and very thin. The sources disagree over whether its claws are retractile. It has no anal glands, unlike actual civets. It is endemic to the tropical forests of Madagascar.
It is nocturnal, though sources disagree over whether it is solitary or, unusual among euplerids, lives in pairs. It is not a good climber and frequents ravines. It eats small vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, and amphibians), insects, and eggs stolen from birds' nests.
The mating season of the Malagasy civet is August to September and the gestation period is three months, ending with the birth of one young. The young are rather well-developed, with opened eyes, and they are weaned in 10 weeks.
- Hawkins, A.F.A. (2008). Fossa fossana. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Database entry includes justification for this species is of near threatened.
- Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 560. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.