Ringtail

Bassariscus astutus

1 - 1 3/4 in. L x 11/16 - 1 5/16 in. W 15/16 - 1 3/8 in. L x 3/4 - 1 1/8 in. W

Ringtail Tracks

 

 

Natural History of Ringtails

The ringtail is commonly called the ringtail cat, but it is not a cat. It has also been called minerís cat, coon cat, cacomistle, or civet cat.

Ringtails are related to raccoons. This nocturnal animal is very secretive and seldom seem.

It has a fox-like face and a ringed tail like a raccoon. The ringtailís tail is longer than that of the raccoon. It has large eyes that help it see well at night.

Ringtails are very agile and have sharp claws which enable them to climb trees and even scale walls.

They hunt by night, pouncing on their prey from ambush. The ringtail primarily eats small rodents, but will also consume fruit, berries, small animals, bats, birds, insects, and acorns. Ringtails spend the day in a den which is often lined with soft moss, leaves, or grass.

Young, usually two to four per litter, are born in May or June. Their eyes do not open for 30 days. Parents bring them food in the nest.

Tracks show five toes on the front foot and five toes on the hind foot. Claws do not usually show in the tracks.

 

Ringtail track from a soot plate. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2001.

A perfect ringtail track from a sooted bait station. This is made by using an aluminum plate coated with soot and contact paper to gather the tracks. It's a great method to survey for wildlife and is being used more commonly by wildlife scientists now.

Ringtail track from a soot plate. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2001.

A bunch of ringtail tracks from a soot plate. These were found as part of a study trying to determine presence or absence of fishers in the park where I worked. The fishers were not found, but many other species left tracks on the plates!
 

Ringtail track from a sooted bait plate. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2001.

A beautiful ringtail track from a sooted bait plate. Notice the details of the toes include whorls on the toe pads and heel pad. Just like your own fingerprints!

 
ringtail right hind foot photo
The right hind foot of a ringtail. I found this ringtail as a roadkill in the middle of the highway. Rather than letting it go to waste, I took photos of its feet to use for educational purposes. The ringtail was then buried.
 
ringtail left front foot photo

The left front foot of a ringtail. There is an additional pad on the front foot called the carpal pad. This sometimes shows up in the tracks. The claws of a ringtail do not reliably register in tracks. Look for them, but don't use them as the only clue to guide your identification of a track.

 
right hind foot of a ringtail

Ringtail feet show whorls, just like humans have on their fingertips and palms. Can you identify an individual ringtail by the whorl patterns? I don't know the answer to that question. It will require more research.

 
 

Personal Notes on Ringtails

ringtail
I once saw two very small ringtails in a tree in Albee Creek Campground. They were out there at night and I was leading a group on a hike. It was a real treat to see these very elusive animals up close. It was likely a pair of young. When I worked at the Grand Canyon many years ago, the ringtails would get into the storage room at the El Tovar lodge and get into the cookies, candy and chips. In the morning, I would find their tracks all over the place in the dust on the shelves, even in chocolate on the packages they'd gotten into! Apparently, they like junk food as much as we do!
 
 

 

 

Find ringtail track posters, greeting cards, t-shirts, hats, and more in my new store.

Visit Beartracker's Nature Store at: www.dirt-time.com   Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!

 

Find other tracking products: www.zazzle.com/tracker8459*

 

Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.

Get Every Child Outdoors (Get E.C.O.) - My shop dedicated to nature and getting kids interested in nature and the outdoors.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!

 

prints prints

Got a ringtail story? E-mail me and tell me about it.

tracker777@hotmail.com

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Copyright © 1997, 2011, 2012. Text and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera