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Wildlife Ringtail Page


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 Ringtail
 Bassariscus astutus

Habitat: The ringtail inhabits arid and semiarid habitats throughout the Southwest. In Colorado it is typically associated with rocky canyon country and foothills areas of piņon-juniper woodlands, montane shrublands, or mixed conifer-oakbrush. In California it has been reported to be common in riparian woodlands (Kaufmann 1987) and has usually been considered to remain close to surface water (Grinnell et al. 1937, Lechleitner 1969).

Diet: They feed on various small mammals including deer mice, ground squirrels, woodrats, rabbits, and bats. Birds, lizards, and insects may also be taken, the latter being important seasonally. Summaries of food habit studies in other states indicate that mammals, fruits, and arthropods compose over 80 percent of the diet (Kaufmann 1987). Traces of carrion (deer) have also been reported.

Description: The ringtail, also called cacomistle, ringtail cat, miner's cat, rock cat, and civet cat, is a small, slender carnivore with a long tail. The dorsum is yellowish buff with black-tipped guard hairs, and the venter is whitish. The tail is white marked with a black tip and seven or eight dark bands that are incomplete ventrally. The ears are conspicuous. The muzzle is pointed, and the face is contrastingly marked with whitish areas around the eyes and below each ear. Measurements are: total length 615-850 mm; length of tail 310-440 mm; length of hindfoot 56-78 mm; length of ear 44-50 mm; weight 800-1,350 g, with males slightly larger than females.

Range in Colorado: They are present in roughlands at moderate elevations (to above 2,800 m) on either side of the Continental Divide (Gavin and Richards 1993, Willey and Richards 1974). The species is probably most common in the canyon country of the southwestern part of the state.


Status: This species is not listed.


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Ringtail Specific Links
  GAP Habitat Map


General Wildlife Links
  Colorado Audubon
  Colorado Birding Society
  Colorado Field Ornithologist's
  Rocky Mnt. Bird Observatory
  TNC Migratory Bird Program