Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

North American Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) Fact Sheet: Reproduction & Development

Courtship & Mating

Mating system (Poglayen-Neuwall and Toweill 1988)

  • No detailed reports describing behavior
  • Male chases female

Copulation (Poglayen-Neuwall and Toweill 1988)

  • Male grasps female behind the pelvis with his forefeet, in a seated position
    • May hold female 1-2 minutes
    • Repeated quick thrusts lasting a few seconds
  • Females vocalize with mating "chitter" before and during copulation
  • Undertaken several times per hour

Reproduction

Seasonally monestrous

  • Female receptive to mating once a year, for 24-36 hours (Nowak 1999; Poglayen-Neuwall and Toweill 1988)
  • Mate in February-May, in general

Denning

  • Give birth in dens
    • Located in rock crevices, under boulders, or hollow trees (Nowak 1999; Taylor 1954)
      • Dens reported in old native American dwellings and upper parts of cabins
    • Lined occasionally with leaves or grass; rarely with hair and feathers (Taylor 1954)
  • Den use is temporary
    • Young are moved often (every few days), once old enough (Poglayen-Neuwall and Toweill 1988)

Gestation & Birth

(summarized from Nowak 1999; Poglayen-Neuwall and Toweill 1988; Zeveloff 2002)

Gestation

  • 51-54 days
  • Shortest pregnancy within the procyonid family

Birth

  • May-June typical
    • Range: April-July
  • Born in nest or den
  • 2-3 offspring typically
    • Range: 1-4; as many as 5 have been reported
    • Interval between sibling birth: 7-49 minutes
  • Birth weight
    • 14-40 g (0.5- 1.4 oz), mean 22 g (0.78 oz)

Parturition

  • 85-126 minutes
    • Fetal expulsion takes 2-47 minutes
  • Born head-first, typically

Life Stages

Infant (from summary by Poglayen-Neuwall and Toweill 1988 unless otherwise noted)

  • Appearance (from Richardson 1942)
    • "Fuzzy, nude appearance"
      • Whitish fur; short to c.3 mm
    • Dark pigmentation around the nose
    • Tail short, hairless, banded with pigmented skin
  • Development
    • Ear canals and eyes closed at birth (Richardson 1942)
      • Ears open first, by 30 days
      • Eyes open fully by 34 day
    • Fully haired by 35 days (Richardson 1942)
    • Consume solid food by 6-7 weeks
      • Excrement of young consumed by mother until young begin taking solid food (Richardson 1942)
    • Walk well by 6 weeks; climb by 8 weeks (Richardson 1942)

Juvenile Life (< c.3 years) (from Nowak 1999 unless otherwise noted)

  • Care provided by female; male may stay in vicinity
  • Forage with adults at 2 months
  • Weaning complete at 3-4 months (Nowak 1999; Poglayen-Neuwall 1990)
  • Full size at 30 weeks

Adult

  • Male
    • Sexual maturity (testes descend) at 16 weeks (Poglayen and Toweill 1988)
  • Female
    • Pregnancy indicated by vulval swelling and hair loss around mammae (Poglayen and Toweill 1988)

Longevity

 c. 7 years (Poglayen-Neuwall 1990)

Mortality

Predation (summarized in Poglayen-Neuwall and Toweill 1988)

  • Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)
  • Coyote (Canis latrans)
  • Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
  • Bobcat (Felis rufus)

Disease (summarized in Poglayen-Neuwall and Toweill 1988)

  • Rabies
  • Feline and canine panleucopenia
  • Parasites
    • Many known ecto- and endoparasites

Interactions with Humans (Zeveloff 2002)

  • Struck by automobiles
  • Trapped for fur (Zeveloff 2002)
    • Decline in demand has driven down number of trapped animals since 1979
    • Pelt reportedly of poor quality

Female within a Den

a ringtail den

Ringtails use dens to shelter during the day and to give birth and raise young.

Image credit: © D Neal from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Nowak (1999)
Poglayen-Neuwall (1990)
Poglayen-Neuwall and Toweill (1988)
Richardson (1942)
Taylor (1954)
Zeveloff (2002)

SDZG Library Links