Bassariscus – Ringtails

‘Bassaris’ is a Greek word for ‘fox’, but they are not related to foxes

This genus consists of two extant species native to the southwestern United States and Central America and two extinct species: Bassariscus sonoitensis and Bassariscus casei. Genetic studies show that raccoons are Bassariscus’s closest relatives that diverged from each other about 10 million years ago.

Animals from this genus have a common characteristic in that their tail has markings in the form of black rings. These animals are omnivores that feed on a wide variety of foods, such as insects, small vertebrates, rodents, and fruits. They lead a solitary life and only come together to mate during mating season.