Dry Creek Hill

A Ringtail On the Roof

While bringing in the hummingbird feeders at dusk I caught some movement in my peripheral vision and was surprised to see a Ringtail on the roof of our shed. I’d never seen one here but the Texas Hill Country seems to be part of their natural territory. He (or she, who knows?) quickly jumped into the trees and Loretta and I both watched as he traveled through the treetops. It’s an impressive sight. They look something like a raccoon with the dexterity of a monkey.

A few evenings later I waited on our back deck with camera in hand and managed to catch him as he emerged from the shed. It was a lot darker than these photos make it look. The raw images needed a big exposure boost in post to be able to see anything.

Ringtail peeking out of the shed
First, the Ringtail peeks out of home in the attic of the shed.
Ringtail crawls out onto the roof
Then the Ringtail crawls out onto the attached lean-to. (And yes, I need to clear the cedar debris from the roof.)
Ringtail climbing the roof
And now it’s off for a night of fun.

I can’t say I’m delighted with having a Ringtail living in the attic of the shed and I may need to find a way to humanely evict him, but there isn’t much up there he can hurt. There’s no wiring there and what we have stored is either indestructible or expendable. My old game camera conked out, but after I get a new one I’ll set it to observe the shed for a few nights so I can figure out the Ringtail’s schedule and perhaps develop an eviction plan.

On the other hand, they are reported to be good at pest control. Miners kept them as pets for that purpose and with our feral cat colony gone it wouldn’t hurt to have someone on mouse patrol.

Anyway, he’s a cute little guy (or she’s a cute little gal). And that’s quite a tail.

2 thoughts on “A Ringtail On the Roof

  1. shoreacres

    What fun! My friend who lives outside Kerrville saw one last year. She says they used to be more common,but she hadn’t seen one for two or three years. That’s a great photo you got with the tail in full view. I’ve never seen one and don’t really know much about them, but she was thrilled to have one around again. She claims they keep the possums away from her persimmons.

    I just looked up some information on the critter and found that its scientific name is Bassariscus astutus. If it’s astute, it may be able to keep one step ahead of you.

    1. Charles Prokop Post author

      This was the first one I’ve ever seen. Its agility moving through the treetops was impressive and gave us a good idea of what that long, beautiful tail is for. It looked to be providing a wonderful counterweight for balance as the ringtail leapt from branch to branch. That shot of the ringtail scurrying up the shed roof is a bit fuzzy, but it was moving fast and the light was low.

      I’ve tried to get more shots but haven’t yet managed to be there at the right time. The photos in the post were from a few months ago, but I saw it once again (when I didn’t have my camera, of course) a few weeks ago. It ran up the shed roof, then stopped and ran back down. Then a second one emerged and joined it on the roof. They both jumped off into the trees. They are presumably solitary as adults, so that might have been a youngster and mother. I’ll keep trying to catch more of the action, perhaps with a new game camera set to watch the area all night.

      If they do a good job at pest control I’m willing to live and let live as long as I don’t see damage that concerns me. I’m guessing that the ringtail could have been looking for a warmer spot during our winter Arctic invasion and managed to find a way into the attic of the shed. They’re quiet during the day and I don’t go up and crawl around in that attic for months (sometimes years) at a time, so it could have been there for a long time without me knowing.

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