- Ring-tailed Cat
name = Ringtail
status = LR/lc | status_system = IUCN2.3
image_width = 250px
phylum = Chordata
genus = "
species = "B. astutus"
binomial = "Bassariscus astutus"
binomial_authority = (Lichtenstein, 1830)
subdivision_ranks = Subspecies
*"Bassariscus a. arizonensis"
*"Bassariscus a. flavus"
*"Bassariscus a. yumanensis"
*"Bassariscus a. nevadensis"The ringtail ("Bassariscus astutus") is a
mammalof the raccoon family, 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" (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" (also known as "Jentinkia sumichrasti").
The ringtail is buff to dark brown in color with white underparts and a flashy black and white striped tail which is longer than the rest of its body. The eyes are large and purple, each surrounded by a patch of light fur. 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.
Range and habitat
The ringtail is found throughout
California, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Utahand parts of northern Mexico. It is found in rocky, forested habitat, where it nests in the hollows of trees or abandoned wooden structures. The ringtail is the state mammalof Arizona.
anklejoint is flexible and able to rotate over 180 degrees, a trait helping make it an agile climber. Their considerable tail provides balance for negotiating narrow ledges and limbs, even allowing them to reverse directions by performing a cartwheel. Ringtails also can ascend narrow passages by stemming (pressing all feet on one wall and their back against the other or pressing both right feet on one wall and both left feet on the other), and wider cracks or openings by ricocheting between the walls. [desertusa.com [http://www.desertusa.com/mag01/mar/papr/ringt.html] ; Accessed 2/28/07]
It is nocturnal, solitary, timid, and rarely seen. It is
omnivorous, eating fruits, berries, insects, lizards, small rodents, and birds. Owls, foxes, coyotes, raccoons and bobcats will prey upon ringtails. These small carnivorans produce a variety of sounds, including clicks and chatters reminiscent of raccoons. A typical call is a very loud, plaintive bark. As adults, these mammals lead solitary lives, generally coming together only to mate.
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. They reach sexual maturity at ten months. The ringtail's lifespan in the wild is about seven years. [lioncrusher.com [http://www.lioncrusher.com/animal.asp?animal=84] ; Accessed 3/6/07]
The ringtail is said to be easily tamed, and can make an affectionate pet and effective mouser. Miners and settlers once kept pet ringtails to keep their cabins free of vermin; hence, the common name of "miner's cat" (though in fact the ringtail is no more cat than it is civet). Often a hole was cut in a small box and placed near a heat source (perhaps a stove) as a dark, warm place for the animal to sleep during the day, coming out after dark to rid the cabin of mice.
* Nowak, Ronald M. (2005). "Walker's Carnivores of the World". Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-8032-7
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