Is No Cat
This beautiful ringtail critter is a welcome site for most people. They are plentiful throughout the West and in Mexico. They are named after their fluffy brown and white ring like markings around their tails.
They have the face of a fox but smaller. Their eyes are large adorable marble-brown in color. This helps them in their nocturnal pursuits in nature. They have cat-like claws and are able to scale verticle climbs of rock, tree and stucco.(Any surface really) The rear feet of the ringtail allow 180 degree turns without lifting the rear feet. These cooners grow to be two and a half feet long from nose to tail. These critters can leap several feet in the air or jump to pounce on a target prey with great speed and accuacy.
Because of the size of these little foxes, the claws they have, their ability to capture mice and leap, many call them a ringtail cat. They are not a cat but are related to the racoon family. Mining prospectors in Arizona would make them pets and use them to rid their miner's quarters of mice. So they are often called the miner's cat. Again, they are not related to the cat. The latin name Bassariscus astusus, comes from bassar meaning fox, isc meaning little, and astut meaning cunning.
Rigntails are very clean and are very helpful in ridding a house filled with insects, lizards and mice. But they also eat plants, flowers, gophers, squirrels, and small rabbits. They will eat almost anything even birds. Some people keep them as pets but if they ever get outside they become impossible to find and even harder to retrieve if found. These critters are very curious and are known to investigate everything from shinny to noisey to maze like structures (attics).
They have one other negative as pets. If they become frightened suddenly, they will put out an oder like a skunk would... yet when domesticated the fear factor is usually eliminated. The scent glands can be removed too.
They have predators in the coyote, bobcat, cougar, and great horned owl. Most other animals are not fast enough to catch them before they hide in a crevice somewhere. They love rocky terrain near a water source. However, they do not have to have a lot of water. They can live off of the water in the prickly pear cactus and other types of things they eat.
We do not see them very often because they are so secretive and shy during the day and normally do not show themselves to humans at night except by pure luck and coincidence.
This animal is graceful and beautiful at the same time. You can see them in most zoo's. If you happen to see one in the wild it will most likely be at night somewhere. Make sure you have a flash camera.
Ringtail: Clever Little Fox >