Malagasy Civet, Fossa fossana

The Malagasy civet (Fossa fossana) is native to Madagascar, where it inhabits tropical rainforests. Its other common names include the striped civet and the fanaloka. It was previously classified with the banded palm civet in the subfamily Hemigalinae, and as its own subspecies in the subfamily Fossinae. It should not be confused with the fossa, a cat like creature that is also native to Madagascar, even though it has been classified as Fossa fossa. Currently, it is classified in subfamily Euplerinae.

The fanaloka is small, reaching an average body length of only 1.5 feet, with a tail length of up to 7.8 inches. It can weigh an average of up to 5.5 pounds. Its pelage is short and creamy grey in color, with black stripes running horizontally from its head to its tail. When the stripes reach its shaggy tail, they become vertical. On the lighter underbelly, the stripes fade into spots. It is unknown whether its claws are retractable, and it has no anal glands, which is uncommon to civets.

It is unknown whether the Malagasy civet is solitary or if it prefers to live in pairs, but it is a nocturnal creature that moves about ravines as it cannot climb very well. Its diet consists of small invertebrates, stolen bird eggs, and insects. These civets mate during the months of August to September, after which one young is born about three months later. The young will mature quickly, and are weaned at ten weeks of age. It is threatened by habitat loss, competition with introduced species, and hunting, although it does appear to be common throughout its range. The Malagasy civet has been given a conservation status of “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

Image Caption: Fossa fossana. Credit: Hectonichus/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)