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The Elusive Ringtail

In May of 2022, I posted on our social media sites that we still needed to capture an image of a ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) on the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve wildlife cameras. A simple adjustment of the location of one camera to avoid tall vegetation brought our hopes to fruition this winter. Adding another species to the list of animals known to call the preserve home is always exciting for us, and we are happy to share this image with you!

Image of a ringtail captured by our wildlife cameras.
Image of a ringtail captured by our wildlife cameras.

The ringtail, also known as the ringtail cat or miner’s cat, is not a cat but part of the raccoon family (Procyonidae). Ringtails are found from northern Mexico to southern Oregon and as far east as Oklahoma. Ringtails live to be about 6 to 9 years old and weigh about one to two pounds. Due to their small size, nocturnal behavior, and solitary nature, ringtails are rarely seen. Ringtails are omnivores, but much of their diet consists of meat, hunting small animals such as rodents, lizards, and insects. The ringtail was named Arizona's state mammal in 1986.

Wildlife camera set up on a log in the BWP.
Wildlife camera set up on a log in the BWP.

In case you didn’t know, the Patagonia Public Library has a few wildlife cameras that can be checked out through their lending library. This is an excellent opportunity to see what wildlife might be exploring your own backyard. Each camera comes with instructions on how to set them up and submit data to Sky Island FotoFauna, a project of Sky Island Alliance. Borderlands Wildlife Preserve is home to several permanent wildlife camera traps. The data collected is helping build our knowledge about wildlife and how they move through the region. For more information about how to get involved with Sky Island FotoFauna, please get in touch with Cholla Duir at

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