Save The Ringtails

The Ringtails

The Procyonidae is a small family consisting of only 6 genera and about 15 species. They occur in much of North, Central, and South America. Although the red panda of Asia has been placed in this family, it belongs in its own family, the Ailuridae. Procyonids thrive in many habitats and climatic conditions, in such different environments as humid tropical rain forests and arid semideserts.  Raccoons are especially adaptable; the other family members tend to be more limited in where they live.

This family includes the several olingos (Bassaricyon spp.) of Central and South America, another member of this genus: the newly discovered olinguito of South America; and the kinkajou (Potos flavus), which also is found in Central and South America. The ringtail and cacomistle (Bassariscus spp.) may be more familiar: the former occurs from western North America into Mexico, where it overlaps with the cacomistle which ranges further into Central America. The coatis (Nasua spp.) of North, Central, and South America include the mountain coatis, which are placed in a separate genus (Nasuella). These smaller coatis have the most restricted range of any procyonid genus, only occurring in high-altitude montane forests, at elevations over 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) in South America.

Finally, there are the most well-known ringtails of all, the raccoons (Procyon spp.). It is hard to imagine that anything resembling the ubiquitous common raccoon (Procyon lotor) could be facing threats to its survival. Yet, the other raccoons, including the crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus) of Central and South America, are decreasing in numbers. The several island raccoons face significant conservation challenges. A comprehensive description of this family can be found in the book Raccoons, A Natural History by Dr. Sam Zeveloff,  the founder of Save the Ringtails.