Ringtail (Cacomistle, Ring-tailed Cat)
The Ringtail is a mammal of the raccoon family. It is also known as the Ringtail Cat, Ring-tailed Cat or Miner's Cat even though it actually isn’t a cat. It is also sometimes mistakenly identified as a "civet cat".
The Ringtail is a cat-sized carnivore that resembles a small fox with a distinct very long, flattened raccoon-like tail that has 14-16 alternating black and white stripes and ends in a black tip. They arebuff to dark brown in color with white underparts. Their face is sooty gray with a large, distinct, whitish area above and below each eye, and one at the anterior base of each ear. Their large purple eyes are surrounded by a black eye ring and a patch of light fur and the backs of their ears are whitish near the tip.The Ringtail is armed with sharp, short, semi-retractile claws.
The males are larger than the females and they measure on average 11.8-16.5in (30–42cm) with a 12.2-17.3in (31–44cm) long tail and they weigh 1.7-3.3lb (0.8–1.5kg).
Ringtails live in a variety of habitats within their range, but they have a preference for rocky areas associated with water, such as rock piles, stone fences, canyon walls, talus slopes and may also include caves, and mine shafts. They occur less commonly in woodland areas where they live in hollow trees and logs, and they are also known to live in buildings.
The Ringtail is found in southern California, Colorado, eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Nevada, Texas, Utah and throughout northern and central Mexico. It is also found in the Great Basin Desert. The Great Basin desert covers most of Nevada and over half of Utah, as well as parts of California, Idaho, and Oregon. The ringtail prefers to live in rocky habitats associated with water.
Ringtail meat is very greasy, but flavorsome with a taste similar to chicken with a bit of a beef flavor.
Ringtails have occasionally been hunted for their pelts, but the fur is not especially valuable.
The Ringtail is omnivorous and its diet includes fruits, berries, insects, lizards, small rodents, and birds.
Ringtails are nocturnal, solitary, timid, and rarely seen.
As adults, they lead solitary lives and generally only come together to mate. Their breeding season appears to be restricted to a relatively short period of the year during the spring. The gestation period lasts 45–50 days, during which time the male procures food for the female. The female gives birth to 2-4 helpless cubs that are born blind with their ears closed and only covered in a very short whitish hair. The cubs open their ears after 3 weeks and their eyes a week later. They however only become self-sufficient and able to hunt for themselves after 4 months of age at which stage they already resemble the adults although still much smaller. They reach sexual maturity at ten months.
The Ringtail’s main predators include Owls, Foxes, Coyotes, Raccoons and Bobcats. The Ringtail is known to survive for about 7 years in the wild.
They produce a variety of vocalizations, including clicks and chatters and they also have a very loud, plaintive bark.
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