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Common Name: Malagasy Civet

Scientific Name: Fossa fossana

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Eupleridae

Genus: Fossa

Species: F. fossana


The Fossa fossana, otherwise known as the Malagasy Civet, is a somewhat small, carnivorous mammal. It can weigh anywhere from 3lbs.-5lbs., but the average weight is 3.85lbs. It can grow from 15-18 inches in length. The Malagasy civet is commonly called the Fossa, but that is the name of a completely different animal. The two are kind of related, but they could not be mistaken for each other.


The civet has a short, thick coat of light brown fur. It has 4 rows of dark brown spots running horizontally down its back. The horizontal spots morph into vertical stripes once they reach the tail. Its underside is a light beige color that is much lighter than the rest. This cat-like animal reaches sexual maturity at around 2 years & its breeding season is from August to September. After a gestation period of about 3 months, a single baby civet is born. They are born with their eyes open & they will start to walk after only a few days. The baby civets drink their mother’s milk and are fully weaned by 3 months of age.


They can start to eat meat at around a month but they still need milk. When the baby is born it is very small and it only weighs about 3 ounces. The civets lifespan is about 11 years. The Malagasy Civet is a voracious carnivore. Their diet is mainly made up of small animals such as rodents, frogs, reptiles, birds, invertebrates, & freshwater crabs. As a baby, the civet can be hunted by snakes, birds, & other hungry predators. As an adult, they may be hunted by wild dogs or humans. The humans hunt them to eat and for their fur. But mainly as an adult, the Malagasy Civet have very few predators.


When a civet hunts, it sneaks around in low bushes and low trees to stay hidden, and then it attacks its prey. The civet lives in Africa & can normally be found anywhere in Madagascar. It can be found in the humid low areas all the way to the high dryer regions, but they like to stay in ravines. They do so well in the ravines because they are not good climbers. The Malagasy Civet is listed under conservation lists as vulnerable. They have had a large decrease in size & in the quality and status of their habitat. They are also hunted for fur and food. Therefore, they are now a threatened species. This is not yet a proven fact but scientists think that most Malagasy Civets form pairs of 2 and they maintain a home range of about a square mile.


In the winter, the Malagasy Civet stores fat in its tail and during this time, the tail can weigh up to 25% of its total body weight!! Both sexes spray their scent in their boundary to mark their territory. The spray is produced in glands found in the anus, cheeks, and the neck. The Malagasy civet is a nocturnal animal, which means that they are most active at night.


I am so happy that I got the Malagasy Civet for my animal report. It was kind of difficult to find a lot of information on this amazing little creature, but it was fun. My favorite part about this report is, that I got to learn so much about an incredible animal. I think that it’s coat is beautiful & I think that the fact its tail can way 25% of its body is really interesting. I am VERY proud and honored to have done a report on the amazing Malagasy Civet!!!!


Author: Hannah S

Published: 02/2009


Sources: * images *


Photo Credit: Nick Garbutt






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