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Bassariscus astutus


Born in captivity at the Elmwood Park Zoo in March 2001. She was transferred to us in July of 2001.

Fun Facts

Ringtails grow and mature very quickly. At 10 weeks old they are self-sufficient and can care for themselves if need be. Although they appear small and timid, Native Americans referred to them as “small mountain lions” because of their ferocious scream when captured.

According to early stories, ringtails were kept by gold miners for company and also to rid camps of mice. This is where the nickname “miner’s cat” comes from. However, they are not related to cats, but rather to raccoons.
Ringtails are excellent climbers – their hind feet swivel 180° to help with grip. They also have thick fur between the pads of their feet and semi-retractable claws. Their h3 hind legs enable them to leap 10 feet or more with little effort.

Birth Date


Diet in the Wild

Mice, wood rats, berries, and soft fruits.

Diet at the Museum

Cat kibble, mice, rats, beef, rabbit, insects, bones, hard boiled egg, fruits, and vegetables.

Life Span

In the Wild: Up to 8 years.
In Captivity: 12 to 17 years.


Found in bushy and wooded areas at lower and middle elevations. They are common in foothill canyons and prefer to be near water.


Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico.

Conservation Status:

No special status. The number of ringtails in the wild is not known, since they are very rarely seen. They used to be hunted for their fur, but their fur was considered to be of poor quality.