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.
- Macdonald, David (ed). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. (New York, 1984)
- Anderson, Simon (ed). Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals. (Milan, 1982)
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