The name ringtail cat is deceptive, even though it has rings on its tail, it isn’t in the cat family. The ringtail cat is related to the raccoon family and referred to as “ringtail”. This elusive, nocturnal animal has adapted to urban living and has become a frequent visitor in residential attics.
Like all warm-blooded mammals ringtail are susceptible to rabies, but are not considered high risk animals. Ringtail’s can contract feline and canine panleukopenia which isn’t contagious or contractible by humans, however panleukopenia is contagious to unvaccinated dogs and cats. Panleukopenia is primarily spread through contact with a infected animal’s bodily fluids, feces and other formites. Parasites such as fleas and diseases associated with fleas play a larger part in mortality of ringtail’s. Ringtails are of modest concern to IUCN (International Union for conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).
Biology & Habits
Ringtail cats are omnivores, meaning they will eat just about anything if it is the right size. Their diets generally consist of mice, rats, birds and their eggs, plants, fruit and insects. Ringtails are solitary animals, except during mating season, breeding season can extend from February into May, but most breeding occurs in March and April. Which occurs from February to June. The gestation period lasts 51 to 53 days,with litter sizes from 1 to 5. However, two and four are typical. Ringtails are also quite vocal, especially the young. They will make sounds similar to a raccoon’s chirps, chatters, clicking sounds and most commonly produce a very loud plaintive bark.
Ringtails can be found from northern Mexico up through Texas and Oklahoma, across into New Mexico, Arizona, though California, Southern Nevada, Utah and Colorado.
Ringtails are becoming more frequent unwelcome guest in home owners attics. Un like squirrels and raccoons who will claw or chew their way into a attic, ringtail’s lack the physical capability of such entry but do possess equal determination. Ringtails are capable passing through a 2’by 2’ opening. Ringtail’s often gain entry into attics through roof intersections and roof vents. Upon entry homeowners often hear sporadic sounds of running, chasing, jumping. Ringtails are excellent hunters, the American Indians referred to the ringtail as the tiny lion. Often homeowners experience the disturbing sounds of the ringtail hunting a previous occupant of the attic. Ringtails will also enter a attic with its prey, only to consume portions of the prey, resulting in a unpleasant dead smell in the attic. Another concern for the homeowner is the ringtail latrines. The feces of ringtails are a way to mark their territory. Ringtails tend to defecate in similar areas in a seemingly non-random pattern are a way to mark their territory.
The ringtail’s body is compact and sleek, with a bushy tail that averages about 12 inches in length. The name ringtail describes their most distinguishing physical characteristic. Their tail is marked by 8 to 9 alternating black and white bands for which the animal is named. The ringtail, like many animals, uses its tail for balance and a distraction to predators. The ringtail also utilizes its tail to perform cart wheels when a quick change in direction is needed. The ringtail is often referred to as a perfect climber. Ringtail’s have semi-retractable claws and a flexible ankle joint giving the ability to rotate its paw’s 180°.
Ringtails that are allowed to live in the attic, not only can disrupt your sleep with their nocturnal activities, along with ringtails hunting other occupants in your attic which is sometimes accompanied with a dead smell, the result of unconsumed portions of a previous meal. Most common damage found in attics being occupied with the ringtail are the latrines and claw puncture marks on the air conditioning ducts as the ringtail jumps from duck to duck or climbing air conditioning ducts to an upper level of the attic.
AWRS Ringtail Philosopy
Ringtail’s are nomadic opportunities, opportunities in living areas as well as food sources. Ringtail’s seldom remain in one attic, making them nomadic by nature. Normally ringtail’s only consistently occupy the same attic when raising their young. So caution is always advised when excluding or animal proofing a home.AWRS will always monitor for lactating ringtail during the birthing season. Once a home has been successfully ringtail proofed, a homeowner should be assured that reentry is not likely until the home is re-roofed or exterior changes have occurred.