Is It a Cat? Is It a Racoon? No, It’s a Ringtail

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The ringtail is an odd-looking creature that inhabits desert areas of the American Southwest. Here are some fun facts about this mammal that few people see.

Are They Cats?


Ringtails are commonly called ringtail cats, even though these creatures are related to raccoons. Their scientific name, Bassariscus astutus, means “cunning little fox.”

Distinctive Tails


Ringtails, as the name implies, have tails of alternating black and white circles, much like a ringtail lemur.

Good Eyes and Ears


These creatures have large, round ears and good eyesight, which is perfect for getting around their desert habitats.



Ringtails sleep in their dens during the day and come out at night, which is part of the reason why these animals need big ears and large eyes.

Great Climbers


Ringtails love to climb up and down rock faces. Their slender bodies allow them to hide in narrow crevices to get away from predators.

Hind Feet


The hind feet of ringtails rotate 180 degrees to make it easier to grasp rocks, cacti, and cliff sides.

Rocky Habitats


These carnivores live in rocky habitats near water. Ringtails are the state mammal of Arizona.

Hard to Find


These elusive creatures are found in desert areas of Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. Find out what you can do to help save another amazing desert creature.

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