The Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) is a mammal of the raccoon family (thus not actually a cat), native to arid regions of North America. It is also known as the Ringtail cat, Ring-tailed cat or Miner's cat, and is also sometimes mistakenly called a "civet cat" (after similar, though unrelated, cat-like omnivores of Asia and Africa). The Ringtail is sometimes called a cacomistle, though this term seems to be more often used to refer to Bassariscus sumichrasti.
Ten Facts about Ringtail
- The Ringtail is buff to dark brown in color with white underparts and a flashy black and white striped tail that has 14-16 white and black stripes, which is longer than the rest of its body.
- It is smaller than a housecat, measuring 30-42 cm long with a tail of 31-44 cm and weighing 0.8-1.5 kg.
- Ringtails have occasionally been hunted for their pelts, but the fur is not especially valuable.
- The Ringtail is found in California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Utah and throughout northern and central Mexico.
- The ankle joint is flexible and able to rotate over 180 degrees, a trait helping make it an agile climber.
- It is omnivorous, eating fruits, berries, insects, lizards, small rodents, and birds. Owls, foxes, coyotes, raccoons and bobcats will prey upon ringtails.
- It is nocturnal, solitary, timid, and rarely seen.
- These small omnivores produce a variety of sounds, including clicks and chatters reminiscent of raccoons. A typical call is a very loud, plaintive bark.
- Ringtails mate in the spring. The gestation period is 45-50 days, during which the male will procure food for the female.
- There will be 2-4 cubs in a litter. The cubs open their eyes after a month, and will hunt for themselves after four months.