Ringtail Cats Dubbed As The "Cutest Animal In North America"

According to LiveScience, the Ringtail Cat is in the running for the title of "Cutest Animal of North America." Check out some pictures and some facts about this adorable and elusive animal:

Story via LiveScience

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    The Ringtail Cat is geographically unique to the region of North America.

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    Their unique looks

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    They have a distinctive bushy tail, resembling that of raccoons, in the pattern, and often longer than the head and body combined. Their eyes are either black or a dark brown with a cute whitish mask.

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    Ringtail cats are nocturnal, except during the mating season. Like most some other cat species, they prefer to live solitarily. And just like a cat, the ringtail will lick its forepaw, then use it to wipe and clean its ears, face, and snout. 

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    It turns out, the ringtail cat is not even a cat at all! As the tail suggests, they are actually a member of the raccoon family, Procyonidae. Its face is fox-like with its small pointed nose and large rounded ears; its elongated body and the long, black-and-white striped tail is similar to a raccoon's.

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    They are very timid toward humans and therefore are less often seen than their raccoon cousins.

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    Being an omnivore, the ringtail sports semi-retractable claws ideal for digging and climbing. Their small mouths hold 40 teeth, and their canines are well developed.

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    They are also known for their incredible climbing abilities. They have a unique ability to rotate their hind feet 180 degrees, which allow they to feet the pads of their pads securely on whatever surface they're currently on. 

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    How it protects itself

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    When threatened by a predator, the ringtail cat bristles its tail high over its back toward its head in an attempt to look even larger and if they are captured, they secrete a foul-smelling oil from its anal gland and emit a high-pitched screech.

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    For being so shy and timid, they certainly have a wide range of calls; from their high-pitched scream when they're being attacked to their mating calls and chirps, squeaks and/or whimpers. 

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    Being honored

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    In 1988, Arizona, a vote by the state's schoolchildren officially declared the adorable and elusive animal as the Offical State Mammal of Arizona. 

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