This cat is not a cat

At first glance, the fossa looks like some sort of cat. Its facial features, long tail, and paws seem unmistakably feline. For some time after its discovery, researchers believed that the fossa was a primitive form of cat that had not changed for some time.

In actuality, the fossa is more related to the mongoose family. These unique animals are top predators on the island of Madagascar, and are the largest mammalian carnivores that can be found there. They can grow up to 32 inches long! Their tails will generally be the same size as their bodies, making them even larger.

Fossas live in the forests, and have webbed paws which help them navigate the branches. Due to their appearance, you would expect them to spend most of their time on the ground, but they are usually found high in the tree tops. However, they do spend time hunting on the ground, where they find frogs and lizards. Up in the trees, they are known to prey on lemurs. They are nocturnal, and usually sleep in tree hollows, empty termite mounds, or caves.

As one of the largest predators on the island, the fossa is preyed upon by few animals, though an unlucky fossa will sometimes get snapped up by a crocodile. Despite having so few predators, these singular animals are endangered. This is due to deforestation- once found throughout the island, the fossa has been driven to a tiny sliver of their former range. They are also frequently hunted by the human residents of the island, since people fear that the fossa will attack their livestock.

Another huge issue affecting the fossa species is the invasion of the Madagascar forests by domestic dogs. You can learn more about this issue by watching this video: