Small, tan bodied ringtail perched in a juniper tree. Its long, black and white tail, draped on the trunk of the tree

NPS photo

(Bassariscus astutus)

Ringtails are interesting and elusive creatures that live in Zion National Park, but are rarely seen. A relative of the raccoon, they are known to invade buildings in search of food or to hunt rodents, but they are strictly nocturnal and make every effort to avoid detection. Ringtails weigh only about two pounds and can be up to 32 inches long, adding another 12 or more inches for their fluffy, ringed tail.

Combining their small size and incredible agility, there are few spaces inaccessible to a determined ringtail. Using their semi-retractable claws they can climb most walls and perform cartwheels and other acrobatics to negotiate tight spaces. The cracks and crevices in the rock layers of Zion provide ample opportunity for the ringtail to put their agility to use when hunting down insects, lizards, and small mammals. But these members of the raccoon family are not strictly carnivores–they will eat fruits, berries, and whatever else they can get their tiny hands on.

Return to Mammals or to the main Wildlife page

Last updated: September 24, 2021

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Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.

Springdale, UT 84767


If you have questions, please email zion_park_information@nps.gov. Listen to recorded information by calling anytime 24 hours a day. Rangers answer phone calls from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. MT, but a ranger may not answer if they are already speaking with someone else.

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