Arizona State Mammal
Official State Mammal of Arizona
Ask most people what the state mammal of Arizona is, and you will either get a blank stare or an attempt to guess. However, very few will actually know the answer. The unique ringtail was designated the official state mammal of Arizona in 1986.
Also called ringtail cat, miner’s cat, and cacomistle, ringtails are cat-sized carnivores that resemble a small fox with a long raccoon-like tail – in fact they are related to the raccoon and coatimundi. The tail is about the length of the head and body with 14-16 black and white bands and a black tip. The ringtail has five toes on each foot equipped with sharp, curved, non-retractile claws.
Almost wholly nocturnal, ringtails spend the greater part of the day asleep in their dens. They are expert climbers (capable of ascending vertical walls). Ringtails prefer rocky areas such as rock piles, stone fences, and canyon walls, making their dens in well-protected crevices, crannies, and hollows. They are found less often in wooded areas where they make dens in hollow trees and logs.
Ringtails eat a wide variety of foods: small birds and mammals (rats, mice, squirrels, cottontails), carrion, snakes and lizards, toads and frogs, insects (grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, scorpions, and centipedes), and fruit (mostly native persimmon, hackberry, and mistletoe).
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