Ring-tailed cat

The ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) is a mammal of the raccoon family, native to arid regions of North America. Even though it is not a cat, it is also known as the ringtail cat, ring-tailed cat, miner's cat or bassarisk, and is also sometimes called a "civet cat" (after similar, though only distantly related, cat-like carnivores 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.

Ringtail
Squaw-ringtail-28073
Ringtail in Phoenix, Arizona
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Procyonidae
Genus: Bassariscus
Species:
B. astutus
Binomial name
Bassariscus astutus
(Lichtenstein, 1830)
Subspecies
  • Bassariscus a. arizonensis
  • Bassariscus a. flavus
  • Bassariscus a. yumanensis
  • Bassariscus a. nevadensis
Ring-tailed Cat area
Ring-tailed cat range

Description

The ringtail is buff to dark brown in color with pale underparts. Ringtails have a pointed muzzle with long whiskers resembles that of a fox (which is appropriate in that its name means ‘clever little fox’) and its body resembles that of a cat. These animals are characterized by a long black and white "ringed" tail with 14–16 stripes,[2] which is the about the same length as its body. The claws are short, straight, and semi-retractable, and are perfect for climbing.[3]

Smaller than a house cat, it is one of the smallest extant procyonids (only the smallest in the olingo species group average smaller). Its body alone measures 30–42 cm (12–17 in) and its tail averages 31–44 cm (12–17 in) from its base. It typically weighs around 0.7 to 1.5 kg (1.5 to 3.3 lb).[4] The dental formula of Bassariscus astutus is 3.1.4.23.1.4.2 = 40.[5]

Ringtails are primarily nocturnal, with large eyes and upright ears that make it easier for them to navigate and forage in the dark. It uses its long tail for balance, as it is an adept climber. The rings on its tail can also act as a distraction for predators. The white rings act as a target, so when the tail rather than the body is caught, the ringtail has a greater chance of escaping.[6]

Ringtails have occasionally been hunted for their pelts, but the fur is not especially valuable.

Ecology

In areas with a bountiful source of water, as many as 50 ringtails/sq. mile have been found. Ranging from 50 to 100 acres, the territories of male ringtails occasionally intersect with several females [7] It has been suggested that ringtails utilize feces as a way to mark territory. In 2003, a study done in Mexico City found that ringtails tended to defecate in similar areas in a seemingly nonrandom pattern, mimicking that of other carnivores that utilized excretions to mark territories.[8] Ringtails prefer a solitary existence but may share a den or be found mutually grooming one another. They exhibit limited interaction except during the breeding season, which occurs in the early spring. Occasional prey to coatis, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, and mountain lions, the ringtail is rather adept at avoiding predators. The ringtail’s success in deterring potential predators is largely attributed to its ability to excrete musk when startled or threatened. The main predators of the ringtail are the Great Horned Owl and the Red-tailed Hawk.[7] Ringtails can survive for long periods on water derived from food alone, and have urine which is more concentrated than any other mammal studied, an adaptation which allows for maximum water retention. [9]

Range and habitat

The ringtail is found in the southwestern United States in southern Oregon, California, eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, southern Nevada, Utah and Texas. In Mexico it ranges from the northern desert state of Baja California to Oaxaca. Its distribution overlaps that of B. sumichrasti in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz.[1] It has been reported to be living in western Louisiana, although no conclusive evidence has been found to support this. The ringtail is the state mammal of Arizona.

It is commonly found in rocky desert habitats, where it nests in the hollows of trees or abandoned wooden structures. The ringtail has been found throughout the Great Basin Desert, which stretches over several states (Nevada, Utah, California, Idaho, and Oregon) as well as the Sonoran desert in Arizona, and the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico. The ringtail also prefers rocky habitats associated with water, such as the riparian canyons, caves, or mine shafts.

The ankle joint is flexible and is able to rotate over 180 degrees, making it an agile climber. Their long 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.[2]

Habits

Bassariscus
Two ringtails

Much like the common raccoon, the ringtail is nocturnal and solitary. It is also timid towards humans and seen much less frequently than raccoons. Despite its shy disposition and small body size, the ringtail is arguably the most actively carnivorous species of procyonid, as even the closely related cacomistle eats a larger portion of fruits, insects and refuse.

Small vertebrates such as passerine birds, rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, lizards, frogs and toads are the most important foods during winters.[4] However, the ringtail is omnivorous, as are all procyonids. Berries and insects are important in the diet year-round, and become the primary part of the diet in spring and summer along with other fruit.[10]

Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, hawks and owls will opportunistically prey upon ringtails of all ages, though most predominantly younger, more vulnerable specimens.[4] They 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 have been reported to exhibit fecal marking behavior as a form of intraspecific communication to define territory boundaries or attract potential mates.[11]

Diet

As an omnivore the ringtail enjoys a variety of foods in its diet, the majority of which is made up of animal matter. Insects and small mammals such as rabbits, mice, rats and ground squirrels are some examples of the ringtail's carnivorous tendencies. Occasionally the ringtail will also eat fish, lizards, birds, snakes and carrion. The ringtail also enjoys juniper, hack and black berries, persimmon, prickly pear, and fruit in general. They have even been observed partaking from hummingbird feeders, sweet nectar or sweetened water.[7] In one study the scat of ringtails located on the island of San Jose were analyzed. The results showed that the ringtail tended to prey on whatever was most abundant during each respective season. During the spring time the ringtail's diet consisted largely of insects, showing up in about 50% of the analyzed feces. Small rodents, snakes and some species of lizard were also present. Plant matter also presented in large amounts, around 59% of the collected feces contained some type of plant. The fruits Phaulothamnus, Lycium and Solanum were the most common. Characterized by their large amount of seeds, and ironwood leaves, these fleshy fruits were an obvious favorite of the ringtail.[12]

Reproduction

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.[13]

Domestication

Squaw-ringtail-28112
Ringtail in Phoenix, Arizona

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 a cat than it is civet).[14] The ringtails would move into the miners' and settlers' encampments and become accepted by humans in much the same way that some early domestic cats were theorized to have done. At least one biologist in Oregon has joked that the ringtail is one of two species – the domestic cat and the ringtail – that thus "domesticated humans" due to that pattern of behavior.

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.

References

  1. ^ a b Timm, R.; Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). "Bassariscus astutus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
  2. ^ Lu, Julie. "The Biogeography of Ringtailed Cats". San Francisco University. Archived from the original on August 10, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2010.
  3. ^ Poglayen-Neuwall, Ivo; Toweill, Dale E. (1988). "Bassariscus astutus" (PDF). Mammalian Species (327): 1–8. doi:10.2307/3504321. JSTOR 3504321.
  4. ^ a b c Hunter, Luke (2011) Carnivores of the World, Princeton University Press, ISBN 9780691152288
  5. ^ Stangl, Frederick B.; Henry- Langston, Sarah; Lamar, Nicholas; Kasper, Stephen (2014). "Sexual Dimorphism in the Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) from Texas". Natural Science Research Laboratory. 328.
  6. ^ Bibliography Gilbert, Bil. "Ringtails." Smithsonian 08 2000: 65-70. ProQuest. Web. 2 Apr. 2015 .
  7. ^ a b c Gilbert, Bil. "Ringtails." Smithsonian 08 2000: 65-70. ProQuest. Web. 2 Apr. 2015 .
  8. ^ Barja I, List R. 2006. Faecal marking behaviour in ringtails (Bassariscus astutus) during the non-breeding period: Spatial characteristics of latrines and single faeces. Chemoecology. 16: 219–222.
  9. ^ Schoenherr, Allen A. 1992. A Natural History of California. University of California Press. p. 386
  10. ^ Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus). Nsrl.ttu.edu. Retrieved on April 17, 2013.
  11. ^ Barja, Isabel; List, Rurik (2006-12-01). "Faecal marking behaviour in ringtails (Bassariscus astutus) during the non-breeding period: spatial characteristics of latrines and single faeces". Chemoecology. 16 (4): 219–222. doi:10.1007/s00049-006-0352-x. ISSN 0937-7409.
  12. ^ Rodríguez-Estrella, Ricardo, Angel Rodríguez Moreno, and Karina G. Tam. "Spring Diet of the Endemic Ring-tailed Cat (Bassariscus astutus insulicola) Population on an Island in the Gulf of California, Mexico." Journal of Arid Environments. 2nd ed. Vol. 44. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 241-46. Print.
  13. ^ Postanowicz, Rebecca. "Ringtailed Cat". lioncrusher.com. Archived from the original on April 16, 2007. Retrieved March 6, 2007.
  14. ^ Ringtails in Redwood Park

Further reading

  • Nowak, Ronald M. (2005). Walker's Carnivores of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-8032-7

External links

Bassaricyon

The genus Bassaricyon consists of small Neotropical procyonids, popularly known as olingos . They are native to the rainforests of Central and South America from Nicaragua to Peru. They are arboreal and nocturnal, and live at elevations from sea level to 2,750 m. Olingos closely resemble the kinkajou in morphology and habits, though they lack prehensile tails and extrudable tongues, have more extended muzzles, and possess anal scent glands. They also resemble galagos and certain lemurs, which are primates.

Genetic studies have shown that the closest relatives of the olingos are actually the coatis; the divergence between the two groups is estimated to have occurred about 10.2 million years (Ma) ago during the Tortonian age, while kinkajous split off from the other extant procyonids about 22.6 Ma ago during the Aquitanian age. The similarities between kinkajous and olingos are thus an example of parallel evolution.

Bassariscus

Bassariscus is a genus in the family Procyonidae. There are two species in the genus: the ring-tailed cat or ringtail (B. astutus) and the cacomistle (B. sumichrasti). Genetic studies have indicated that the closest relatives of Bassariscus are raccoons, from which they diverged about 10 million years ago. The two lineages of Bassariscus are thought to have separated after only another two million years, making it the extant procyonid genus with the earliest diversification.

The name is a Greek word for fox ("bassaris") with a Latinized diminutive ending ("-iscus"). The genus was first described by Elliott Coues in 1887. He proposed the word "bassarisk" as the English term for animals in this genus. Its habitat includes semi-arid areas in the southwestern United States, the whole of Mexico, as well as moist tropical forests in Central America.

Cacomistle

The cacomistle, Bassariscus sumichrasti, is a nocturnal, arboreal and omnivorous member of the carnivoran family Procyonidae. Its preferred habitats are wet, tropical, evergreen woodlands and mountain forests, though seasonally it will venture into drier deciduous forests.

Nowhere in its range (from southern Mexico to western Panama) is B. sumichrasti common. This is especially true in Costa Rica, where it inhabits only a very small area. It is completely dependent on forest habitat, making it particularly susceptible to deforestation.

The term cacomistle is from the Nahuatl language (tlahcomiztli) and means "half cat" or "half mountain lion"; it is sometimes also used to refer to the ringtail, Bassariscus astutus, a similar species that inhabits arid northern Mexico and the American Southwest.

Civet cat

Civet cat is an imprecise term that is used for a variety of cat-like creatures including:

Civets, of the families Viverridae and Nandiniidae

Ring-tailed cat or North American Civet Cat (Bassariscus astutus), related to the raccoons

Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), a true cat

African wildcat (Felis silvestris libyca), a true cat

Spotted skunks, skunks of the genus Spilogale

Coati

Coatis, also known as the coatimundis (), are members of the raccoon family (Procyonidae) in the genera Nasua and Nasuella. They are diurnal mammals native to South America, Central America, and southwestern North America. The name coatimundi is purportedly derived from the Tupian languages of Brazil.The coati is also known in English as the hog-nosed coon.

Eastern lowland olingo

The eastern lowland olingo (Bassaricyon alleni) is a species of olingo from South America, where it is known from the lowlands east of the Andes in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Venezuela. It is the only olingo species found east of the Andes. The Latin species name honors Joel Asaph Allen, the American zoologist who first described the genus Bassaricyon.

Fossil Springs Wilderness

Fossil Springs Wilderness is an 11,550-acre (4,674 ha) wilderness area within the Coconino National Forest in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is at the bottom of a steep canyon at the edge of the Colorado Plateau, just south of the Mogollon Rim. Here, water emerges at the surface at the rate of about 2,700 cubic feet (76 m3) per minute. The perennial water supply supports one of the most diverse riparian ecosystems in the state, with more than 30 species of trees set among native desert shrub. It also creates a haven for abundant wildlife, including elk, deer, javelina, coyote, skunk, racoon, ring-tailed cat, fox, mountain lion, black bear and more than 100 species of birds.

Guadeloupe raccoon

The Guadeloupe raccoon (Procyon lotor minor) is a common raccoon endemic on the two main islands Basse-Terre Island and Grande-Terre of Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles.

List of Arizona state symbols

The following is a list of symbols of the U.S. state of Arizona. The majority of the items in the list are officially recognized after a law passed by the state legislature. Most of the symbols were adopted in the 20th century. The first symbol was the motto, which was made official in 1864 for the Arizona Territory. The newest adopted symbol of Arizona is

Wulfenite in 2017. Arizona became the second state to adopt a "state firearm" after Utah adopted the Browning M1911. Fifteen of the state symbols are on display on the Arizona Capitol Museum.

List of mammals of Alabama

The U.S. state of Alabama is home to these known indigenous mammal species. Historically, the state's indigenous species included one armadillo species, sixteen bat species, thirteen carnivore species, six insectivore species, one opossum species, four rabbit species, twenty-two rodent species, and three ungulate species. Four of these native species have become extirpated within the state, including the American bison, cougar, elk, and the red wolf.There are six known introduced mammal species in the state. These include the black rat, brown rat, fallow deer, feral swine, house mouse, and nutria. Several other mammal species have had verifiable sightings within the state, but are believed by biologists to be without established breeding populations. These include the California sea lion (in Mobile Bay), ring-tailed cat, and jaguarundi.Human predation and habitat destruction has placed several mammal species at risk of extirpation or extinction. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources lists the conservation status of each species within the state with a rank of lowest, low, moderate, high, and highest concern.

Nasua

Nasua is a genus of coatis of the family Procyonidae. Two additional species of coatis, commonly known as mountain coatis, are placed in the genus Nasuella.

Nasuella

Mountain coatis are two species of procyonid mammals from the genus Nasuella. Unlike the larger coatis from the genus Nasua, mountain coatis only weigh 1.0–1.5 kilograms (2.2–3.3 lb) and are endemic to the north Andean highlands in South America.

Nasuella meridensis

The eastern mountain coati or eastern dwarf coati (Nasuella meridensis) is a small procyonid found in cloud forest and páramo at altitudes of 2,000–4,000 metres (6,600–13,100 ft) in the Andes of western Venezuela. Until 2009, it was usually included as a subspecies of the western mountain coati, but the eastern mountain coati is overall smaller, somewhat shorter-tailed on average, has markedly smaller teeth, a paler olive-brown pelage, and usually a dark mid-dorsal stripe on the back (versus more rufescent or blackish, and usually without a dark mid-dorsal stripe in the western mountain coati). When the two were combined, they were rated as Data Deficient by the IUCN, but following the split the eastern mountain coati is considered endangered.

Northern olingo

The northern olingo (Bassaricyon gabbii), also known as the bushy-tailed olingo or as simply the olingo (due to it being the most commonly seen of the species), is a tree-dwelling member of the family Procyonidae, which also includes raccoons. It was the first species of olingo to be described, and while it is considered by some authors to be the only genuine olingo species, a recent review of the Bassaricyon genus has shown that there are a total of four olingo species, although two of the former species should now be considered as a part of this species. Its scientific name honors William More Gabb, who collected the first specimen. It is native to Central America.

Olinguito

The olinguito , Bassaricyon neblina, is a mammal of the raccoon family Procyonidae that lives in montane forests in the Andes of western Colombia and Ecuador. The species was described as new in 2013. The species name neblina is Spanish for fog or mist, referring to the cloud forest habitat of the olinguito.On 22 May 2014 the International Institute for Species Exploration declared the olinguito as one of the "Top 10 New Species of 2014" among species discovered in 2013. It is the first new carnivoran mammal described in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years.

Procyon (genus)

Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon (P. lotor), is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and less well known. Genetic studies have shown that the closest relatives of raccoons are the ring-tailed cats and cacomistles of genus Bassariscus, from which they diverged about 10 million years ago.

Procyonidae

Procyonidae is a New World family of the order Carnivora. It comprises the raccoons, coatis, kinkajous, olingos, olinguitos, ringtails, and cacomistles. Procyonids inhabit a wide range of environments and are generally omnivorous.

South American coati

The South American coati or ring-tailed coati (Nasua nasua) is a species of coati and a member of the raccoon family (Procyonidae), from tropical and subtropical South America. In Brazilian Portuguese, it is known as quati. An adult generally weighs 2–7.2 kg (4.4–15.9 lb) and is 85–113 cm (33–44 in) long, with half of that being its tail. Its color is highly variable and the rings on the tail may be only somewhat visible, but its distinguishing characteristic is that it lacks the largely white snout (or "nose") of its northern relative, the white-nosed coati.

Western lowland olingo

The western lowland olingo (Bassaricyon medius) is a species of olingo from Central and South America, where it is known from Panama and from Colombia and Ecuador west of the Andes.

Extant species of family Procyonidae
Procyoninae
Potosinae

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