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North American Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Broadly distributed in U.S. and Mexico (from Nowak 1999 unless otherwise noted)

  • Western North America
    • Southwestern Oregon south through California, and Baja California, Mexico
  • Southwestern U.S.
    • Arizona and Nevada south and east to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas
  • Mexico
    • Most of Mexico
    • Southern-most populations reach Acapulco, Jalapa, and Oaxaca

Introduced populations

  • Reports north and east of Kansas; likely resulting from human transport (Zeveloff 2002)

Overlap among Bassariscus species

  • B. sumichrasti found in southern-most regions of the ringtail's distribution (ITIS 2013)


Varied habitat (summarized from Nowak 1999; Poglayen-Neuwall 1990; Zeveloff 2002)

  • Commonly near water (Lacy 1983; Belluomini 1983)
  • Semi-arid desert, scrub
  • Rock plateau and canyon
  • Riparian zones
  • Semi-oak forest
  • Evergreen forest
  • Meadows of Sacramento River in central California

Habitat Associations

  • Commonly in areas with vertical rock faces (Nowak 1999; Poglayen-Neuwall 1990; Zeveloff 2002)
  • Often near water (Lacy 1983; Belluomini 1983)

Altitudinal range

  • 0-3000 m (0-9600 ft) (Nowak 1999; Poglayen-Neuwall 1990; Zeveloff 2002)

Adapts well to urban edges (Nowak 1999; Poglayen-Neuwall 1990; Zeveloff 2002)

Distribution Map

Ringtail distribution

Ringtail distribution.

Click on map for detailed distribution. Map credit: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, species assessors, and authors of the spatial data, via Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Belluomini (1983)
ITIS (2013)
Lacy (1983)
Nowak (1999)
Poglayen-Neuwall (1990)
Zeveloff (2002)

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