'Educational' animal arrives at museum - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

'Educational' animal arrives at museum

Barely a pound, ringtail will go to classrooms

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:04 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum late last month made room for its latest “animal ambassador,” a nearly one-pound ringtail.

The baby animal made its debut at the museum’s Interpretive Animal Collection building, according to a release.

Called a “kit,” the young ringtail was born at The Living Desert near Palm Springs, Calif., in June.

As an “animal ambassador,” the ringtail kit will visit classrooms and help the museum’s education specialists teach area students about the Sonoran Desert and its residents, according to George Carpenter, curator of the Interpretive Animal Collection.

Ringtails can be found from southern Oregon to the Southwest to Texas and south into southern Mexico. The animals prefer rocky terrain, especially dry ecosystems like the Sonoran Desert region. A nocturnal omnivore, ringtails are related to raccoons and coatis and eat a variety of things, including fruits, arachnids, insects, reptiles, birds and small mammals — particularly rodents.

Official designated as Arizona’s state mammal, ringtails are uncommon sights in zoos and museums, but the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum has displayed the species for years.

Ringtails have about 14 to 16 black and white rings on their tails, which extend the length of their bodies.

“Nobody knows why ringtails and their relatives, the raccoons and coatis, have tails that are ringed with contrasting colors,” Carpenter said in a release.

Many experts speculate that the ringed pattern may help the animals communicate with each other in dark conditions using tail posturing, Carpenter added.

© 2014 Tucson Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

Welcome to the discussion.

Catalina Bighorn Sheep Releases

Arizona Game and Fish released 30 Bighorn Sheep in a 2-Day period into the Catalina Mountains ...

More Featured Videos
Spacer4px

Follow us on Facebook

Online poll