Fun Ringtail Cat Facts For Kids

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 20, 2022 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi
One of the interesting ringtail cat facts for kids is that it has been the State Mammal for Arizona since 1986
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

The ringtail cat is known by several names and nicknames (affectionately) because of how cute they are considered to be. A fun fact for kids is that Rosemary Stussy, a retired biologist from the Department of Fish and Wildlife (Oregon), marked them at 15 on a scale of 1-10 for cuteness.

Despite keeping a low profile, their numbers are quite high and they are seen in most parts of Southwestern United States and New Mexico. These little fox like creatures are often found in rocky, semi-arid desert habitats in the hollows of trees, caves and canyons. Rock crevices don’t intimidate them. They typically breed between February and May or June.

They are rarely seen in the day since they are asleep in their dens after a long night of foraging. Since they hunt at night and live near people, they are at risk for being hit by vehicles.

Their fur was once quite coveted and so the California Department of Fish and Game added this mammal to the state’s list of ‘fully protected species’. This protects the Ringtails further and prohibits the harming or possession of ringtails.

You may also check out the fact files on ring-tailed lemur and fennec fox from Kidadl.

Ringtail Cat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a ringtail cat?

Ringtails are cat-like raccoons that can be found in rocky desert habitats, conifer forests, pinyon pine and oak woodlands with access to water.  

What class of animal does a ringtail cat belong to?

Ringtails belong to the mammalia class within the animal kingdom. They are from the Procyonidae family and Bassariscus genus.  

How many ringtail cats are there in the world?

A large number of ringtails exist around the world, enough for the species to be listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There is however, no accurate estimate of the population of ringtails.

Where does a ringtail cat live?

Ringtails live in semi arid deserts, rocky habitats, and plateaus. Ringtails have been found throughout the arid regions of the Great Basin Desert, which stretches over several states in USA, the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico.  

What is a ringtail cat's habitat?

The Bassariscus astutus actively survive in rocky habitats, conifer forests, oak woodlands and semi-arid regions near water because the source of water increases their food options. Ringtails have been been found throughout the arid regions of the Great Basin Desert, which stretches over several states in USA, the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico.

Who do ringtail cats live with?

These laidback nocturnal creatures are mostly solitary animals except during the mating season.

How long does a ringtail cat live?

Ringtails live for 6-9 years in the wild and longer in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Ring tailed cats are viviparous. Ringtail cats prefer a solitary existence except during the mating season. These nocturnal mammals reach sexual maturity at 10 months of age.

They typically breed between February and May or June in a den with an average litter size about one to four young. Male ringtails are highly competitive amongst each other while vying for the female’s attention. They are larger in size compared to the female.

Female ringtails are the primary caretakers of the newborns. But male ringtails have often been seen interacting and playing with the young.

Cubs don’t open their eyes for almost a month, but gain independence and hunt for themselves after they reach the age of four months. In the wild, these creatures live for 6-9 years. But in captivity, they generally live longer.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, ringtails have been given the conservation status of Least Concern.

Sadly, humans are one of their top predators. Their fur and meat are not considered valuable and so they are not killed for any economic reason.

But, they are unintentionally the victims of road accidents because they are nocturnal and hard to spot in the dark. Sometimes, these cats are also killed because they threaten farmers by damaging orchards or attacking poultry.

Several animal predators also target this nocturnal cat. Some of them are the great horned owls, bobcats, and coyotes.

Ringtail Cat Fun Facts

What do ringtail cats look like?

Its cat-like size and appearance and its excellent mouse catching abilities are why the nickname ‘cat’ follows it. But this nocturnal animal is not a cat.

It is a small sized member of the raccoon family because of its long striped tail. Their face is fox-like and body is elongated, raccoon-like.

The main difference between them and their raccoon cousins is that raccoons have a black band around their eyes like bandits while Ringtail cats have white fur resembling spectacles. These animals are named after their long black and white "ringed" tail that has 14–16 stripes almost as long as its body.

Their semi-retractable claws are short, straight, and semi-retractable making them well-suited for climbing. These excellent acrobats have hind feet that can easily rotate 180 degrees making them adept at climbing.

These long tail nocturnal animals are black, dark brown and white in color with pale under parts. Their famous tails have 14-16 black and white stripes. These shy creatures have large eyes and ears which assist in their nocturnal lifestyle.

Another fun fact for kids is that ringtail cats have an unusual habit of cleaning up after a meal by wiping their hands with their dampened paws.

How cute are they?

Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) are shy creatures that rank high on cuteness because of their laidback and highly adaptive nature.

How do they communicate?

This member of the raccoon family communicates by emitting loud, high pitched sounds to ward off predators. These nocturnally active cat-like species are very vocal when they need to be heard. Ringtail cat sounds include a variety of sounds like high pitched piercing screams and explosive barking. They do this to protect themselves and are not hesitant about it.

How big is a ringtail cat?

Its body alone measures 30–42 cm (12–17 in) and its tail measures 31–44 cm (12–17 in). Their soft fluffy tails are almost as big as their body. It is smaller than a house cat.

How fast can a ringtail cat move?

Ringtail cats are famous for their agile nature. Their semi retractable claws and hind feet that turn 180 degrees help them climb rocky regions well and move quickly through the small rock crevices. This allows them to protect themselves against predators like great horned owls, bobcats, and coyotes.

How much does a ringtail cat weigh?

The average weight of members of this species is 0.7-1.5 kg (1.5-3.3 lb). Adult males are larger than the females.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males and females of this species aren't referred to by different names. They are just called ringtail cats or simply ringtails.

What would you call a baby ringtail cat?

Young ringtail cats are commonly referred to as cubs.

What do they eat?

Ringtail cats are an adaptive species of omnivores. Their diet is flexible and ranges from small insects to berries depending on the availability in that season. Animal matter is their primary choice in food.

They prefer to feed on the decaying flesh of dead animals such as rodents, squirrels and snakes to black berries, persimmon and other varieties of fleshy fruit. Their solid food diet alternates between these. They can survive for long periods of time with only the water derived from their food.

Are they dangerous?

No they are not dangerous. On the contrary they are shy and timid creatures that hide during the day and explore their adventurous side only during the nights.

Would they make a good pet?

Ringtail cats can be kept as pets in some parts of the world. They can be easily tamed and domesticated because of their easily adaptable nature and low maintenance.

They make affectionate pets and efficient rodent catchers. Keeping them as pets is, however, not permitted in some parts of the world. The California Department of Fish and Game prohibits the domestic possession of ringtail cats.

Did you know...

Ringtail cats are also called ‘Miner's Cat’. In the American West they were often found in mining camps where miners domesticated them for controlling the rodent population.

This is why the American ringtail cat is called the ‘Miner's Cat’.

In certain regions of the world, they are called civet cat because of the foul musky odor they secrete when startled or attacked, to ward off predators. Bassariscus astutus as they are scientifically called, when threatened, bring up its bristled tail high over its back in an attempt to look bigger.

Unique features of the ringtail cat

Other than their distinctive appearance, these laidback animals are excellent climbers. They are capable of climbing high vertical walls, trees, tree hollows, rocky mountainous cliffs and even cacti.

Can you keep ringtail cats as pets?

Long tail ringtail cats are not permitted as pets in some parts of the world. Their easy adaptability and low maintenance does make them desirable as household pets. The California Department of Fish and Game prohibits the domestic possession of Ringtail Cats.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including swift fox, or striped skunk.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Ringtail cat coloring pages.  

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi

Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Oluwapelumi Iwayemi picture

Oluwapelumi IwayemiBachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Iwayemi is a creative content writer and editor studying for a Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering from the University of Lagos. He is skilled in research and has experience writing and editing content for different organizations.

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