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The Pit: A Cat-Like Mongoose Comparative in Madagascar

Updated on February 8, 2019

Linda Crampton


Linda Crampton is a author and instructor with an honors stage in biota. She loves to discipline nature and pen almost life things.

The expression of a pit | Beginning

An Interesting Carnal

The pit (marked “FOO-sa”) is the largest piranha in Madagascar. It lives in forests, both in trees and on the undercoat, and is alive in the day or at nighttime. The sensual is an splendid huntsman and a bang-up corner mounter. It travels astir trees and on branches with repose. It can likewise go apace terminated farming.

The pit was erstwhile cerebration to be a typewrite of cat. Researchers get now complete that it’s related mongooses, disdain having a torso with various cat-like features and a dog-like gag. Its scientific epithet is Cryptoprocta ferox . “Crypto” comes from the Antediluvian Greek news for obscure and “procta” from the intelligence for anus. The diagnose refers to the Edubirdie fact that the sensual’s anus is secret privileged a sack, which opens to the extraneous via a puss. “Ferox” comes from the Latin parole for rough.

Madagascar is the fossa’s alone family in the wilderness. The IUCN (External Mating for Preservation of Nature) classifies the creature’s universe as vulnerable due to the exit and atomization of its habitat. Animals in the vulnerable class are probable to suit endangered if the factors pain their universe sizing aren’t changed.

Localisation of Madagascar | Origin

Roughly 95 pct of Madagascar’s reptiles, 89 pct of its flora, and 92 pct of its mammals live nowhere else on Land.

— Earth Wildlife Store

Forcible Show and Soundbox Dimensions

A pit is a lissome sensual with a extremely elongate eubstance and a foresighted arse. Its whisker is myopic and heavy. Its coating is normally crimson or favorable browned in gloss but is occasionally melanize. In counterpoint, its paunch is broadly ointment or spark tan.

The carnal’s brain is rather pocket-sized. It has a protruding gag, rounded ears, and foresightful beard. The nozzle is bellied and ofttimes specially obtrusive. The great eyes of a pit helper it to see at dark. Its abrupt canines are helpful for assaultive its raven.

The pit’s psyche and personify suffer a amount duration of about 24 to 31 inches. The farseeing backside is most the like distance as the nous and torso. The creature is betwixt xiv and 15 inches mellow at the berm.

Fossas matter approximately 15 to xxiv pounds. Females are loosely shorter and igniter than males. The sizing of one pit in recounting to a buzz is shown in the indorsement tv beneath.

A pit at BioPark-Valencia | Beginning

The pit belongs to the rescript Carnivora, same cats, dogs, and mongooses. Erstwhile it was situated in the cat class (Felidae), but it’s now situated in the kinsfolk Eupleridae. It’s intellection to be more tight related the African and Asian mongooses than to cats.


The pit’s hin legs are yearner than its breast ones, which enables it to saltation from leg to leg in the trees. Its farsighted stern helps it to symmetricalness as it jumps. The brute has semi-retractable claws, alike those of a cat. It too has pliant ankles that can twist done an tilt of 180 degrees. This power helps the pit to clutch shoetree branches and pass brain outset consume corner shorts. Fossas in enslavement bear been discovered suspension top polish from ropes with hardly their hin feet connected to the circle.

Fossas walking on the soles of their feet, as we do, which is known as a plantigrade method of travel. Cats and dogs walkway on their toes and are aforementioned to suffer digitigrade travel.

The pit in the undermentioned picture was temporarily anesthetized so that biologists could analyze it. The sensual was so released whole.


The pit is a carnivorous sensual. Its ducky nutrient seems to be lemurs, which may be nigh as great as the pit. According to approximately reports, lemurs manufacture terminated one-half of the sensual’s dieting. Lemurs are primates, alike us. As far as scientists recognise, the pit is the lonesome fleshly whose elementary nutrient is a hierarch (if this is really the suit).

The biologist in the television supra says that although fossas do eat lemurs, they likewise eat many former animals and are an “peer chance marauder.” The animals likewise eat rodents and otc little mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and sometimes insects. They beverage piddle from the pocket-sized pools that they incur on their travels.

A pit in imprisonment | Beginning

Animals are categorised based on the sentence when they are almost dynamic. Nocturnal animals are combat-ready during the nighttime, diurnal animals during the day, crepuscular animals at morning and gloaming, and cathemeral animals—such as the fossa—at any meter. The pit is nigh fighting at nighttime, nevertheless.

Everyday Animation

Fossas are ofttimes backbreaking to remark because they actuate speedily done the shoetree canopy, bound from outgrowth to leg. This makes it hard for biologists to read astir their lives in the furious and to get a jolly exact appraisal of their universe position. The fauna is the largest carnivore in Madagascar, yet thither is practically to see approximately it.

About facts astir the brute are known. Fossas are normally lone. They get sometimes been discovered in pairs or modest groups and bear occasionally been seen piquant in concerted search, still. They are lurk hunters and snap target both in the trees and on the priming.

Researchers recognise that the animals observe a district, which they cross with a secernment from their anal glands and, leastways in males, from glands on their dresser.

The animals transmit vocally likewise as by odor. They shuffle yip, chirping, purring, stertor, and mewing sounds at dissimilar multiplication, contingent the post. They rest in a den on the land or in a fix in a corner.


In the furious, fossas cover in September and October. Coupling unremarkably takes spot in particular trees that are exploited p.a., although it has too been ascertained fetching billet on the reason. A distaff may arrest in her conjugation corner for capable a workweek and appeal many males. The coupling summons may close for capable an minute or more per virile. The distaff normally match with multiple males ahead she descends from her corner.

The youngsters are natural in a primer den. A empty in a shoetree, a shake crack, an old termite cumulation, or a maw in the earth are front-runner sites for dens. The babies are known as pups or cubs. Betwixt two and iv pups are natural afterwards a gestation of about two months. The reported clock is varying.

The pups are lost at bear and are ineffective to turn. Their eyes are unsympathetic and they deliver no dentition. Due to these characteristics they are aforementioned to be altricial. Precocial youngsters birth comparatively maturate features at nativity and can turn most now.

Pit pups are weaned at astir quatern months old. They hitch with their engender for leastways 12 months and are cook to match at approximately quadruplet age aged. Fossas in enslavement exist for some xx eld. Their life in the tempestuous may be shorter, notwithstanding.

Virilisation in Jejune Females

One interesting have of the pit’s growth is the transeunt virilization shown by a jejune distaff when she is ‘tween octonary and xviii months old. Her clit temporarily becomes prolonged and briery, fashioning her feeling similar a manly. She likewise releases an orangeness or red secernment on her bottom wish a suppurate virile. By the meter she reaches maturity these features get disappeared. The ground for the distaff’s impermanent masculinisation is strange.

IUCN Red Leaning categories | Root

From remaining to veracious, the substance of the IUCN Red EduBirdie Wikipedia Tilt categories shown supra is as follows.

EW – Out

EW – Nonextant in the Furious (but lull exists in enslavement)

CR – Critically Endangered

EN – Endangered

VU – Vulnerable

NT – Approach Threatened

LC – Least Care

Oft two extra categories are added on the right—DD, or Information Lacking, and NE, or Not Evaluated.

Universe Position of the Pit

The IUCN maintains a “Red List” of threatened creature species. Apiece species that has been assessed is assigned to a Red Number family based on its closeness to extermination. The modish judgment of the pit universe took position in 2015. The creature was located in the “Vulnerable” class, since its numbers are decreasing. Though it seems to birth quite wide-cut compass, it appears to get a low universe end-to-end the ambit.

The master ground for the declension of the pit universe is the wipeout of forests in Madagascar. The domain is beingness exonerated for farming and logging. As a resolution, it has go harder for fossas to get nutrient. They sometimes target on stock, particularly chickens, and jeopardy beingness killed by farmers. In roughly areas they bear a bad and maybe undeserved repute as a pain or tied a life-threatening fauna. They are sometimes hunted as a plague or killed for bushmeat.

The IUCN predicts that the pit universe testament cliff by some xxx percentage concluded the succeeding leash generations. The animals can be seen at zoos in both Europe and Northward America and deliver bred in enslavement. The barbaric universe inevitably assistance, withal.

The pit is a typical and rattling interesting beast, fair comparable lots of the early wildlife of Madagascar. I promise that slipway can be launch to equalizer both the inevitably of man and the necessarily of wildlife on the island.


The Cryptoprocta ferox incoming from the Encyclopaedia of Aliveness

Pit fact mainsheet from the San Diego Zoo Globose Library

Pit entropy and distaff virilization from WAZA (Man Connection of Zoos and Aquariums)

Cryptoprocta ferox condition from the IUCN Red Name

Questions & Answers

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© 2011 Linda Crampton