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  • Lila Lu

My Life as a Ringtail

Updated: Mar 5, 2020

Lila was recently tasked with writing an Animal Point-of-View research paper. The animal had to be from either Guadalupe National Park or Carlsbad Caverns, and an animal that’s not common to the Northwest. She chose the ringtail. We never saw one, but we did see a lot of their scat on the trails in Guadalupe N.P. Read along to find out more about this mysterious little mammal.

Lila's ringtail

Ringtail Paper


I am a nocturnal mammal called a Ringtail. Although, most people call me a ringtail cat, a civet cat, or a raccoon fox, my scientific name is bassariscus astutus.


When I was born, I was pink and fuzzy. Now that I’m all grown up and have my own babies, I weigh 2 pounds and I’m 24 inches long, including my tail. I have big round eyes to help me see in the dark. My ears can rotate independently so I can hear predators coming from all sides. People think I’m a Raccoon because of my black and white striped tail. Other people think I’m a cat because I’m the size of the average house cat.


I live in Guadalupe Mountains N.P. Some of my friends live in Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. I even have a friend living in Mexico.


I prefer to live in rocky areas close to water. I like to den in other animals old dens, bush piles, or hollow tree limbs.Places I like my dens to be are canyons, caves, or old mine shafts.


My diet is a mix of 62% meat, 28% plants, 7% birds, and 3% what ever I can find in the wild. I will also eat bird eggs, squirrels, reptiles, juniper berries, and cacti.


When walking around, other ringtails and myself use the same cliff side trails over and over again. We are solitary animals. Pairs only meet to reproduce.

Life Cycle:

We will breed in mid-March to mid-April and have babies from mid-May to mid-June. My babies didn’t open their eyes until 32 days after they were born. My two little boys started to help me get food when they were 8 weeks old. By the time they were 19 weeks old, they started to act like adult ringtails. We live for about 6 - 9 years in the wild.

Interesting Facts:

  • Some of my predators are great horned owls, bobcats, and coyotes.

  • We can climb up vertical walls and cacti.

  • We are very lively animals.

  • My hind feet can rotate 180 degrees.

  • In 1986, we became Arizona’s state mammal.


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