Despite the common occurrence of ringtails (Bassariscus astutus) few studies have been conducted to assess population characteristics. The objectives of this study were to determine (1) habitat selection, (2) home range, (3) denning characteristics, and (4) food habits of ringtails in the Trans Pecos region of west Texas. Seventeen ringtails were captured between November 1999 and January 2001 using Havahart live box traps. Second- and third-order habitat selection was determined for a ringtail population using range sites, slope, elevation, and vegetation communities. Diets were determined from volumetric scat analysis. The mean summer and winter range sizes (100% Minimum Convex Polygon [MCP]) for ringtails (n = 5) were 0.28 ?? 0.163 km2 and 0.63 ?? 0.219 km2, respectively. Overlap between ringtail ranges averaged 33.3%. Ringtails preferred catclaw (Mimosa biuncifera), persimmon (Diospyros texana), oak (Quercus sp.) bottom and catclaw/goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba), sideoats (Bouteloua curtipendula) slope communities. Rock dens were used exclusively by ringtails, with 80.6% of dens found on slopes between 30-60%. Plant (seeds and miscellaneous vegetation) and animal material were found in 74.6 and 86.6% of scats, respectively. Findings suggest that ringtails in Trans Pecos, Texas, are an important component of the ecosystem and that management practices should conserve canyon habitats and adjacent slopes for ringtails.
Additional publication details
Characteristics of a ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) population in Trans Pecos, Texas