There are several hot springs below Hoover Dam on the Colorado River recently designated as the Black Canyon National Water Trail. Some areas can be done by land, some can be done by water and some can be done by both. These include areas like Sauna Cave, Heated Cove, Gold Strike Hot Springs (Nevada Hot Springs), Lone Palm, Boy Scout Hot Springs, Moonscape Hot Springs and Ringbolt Hot Springs (Arizona Hot Springs)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22, 2017 - Ringtail Cats at Arizona Hot Springs

Photo courtesy of Todd S. (Ringtailed cats lurking at Arizona Hot Springs).

The ringtail is buff to dark brown in color with white underparts and a black and white "ringed" tail that has 14–16 white and black stripes, which is longer than the rest of its body. The claws are short, straight, and semi-retractable. The eyes are large and black, each surrounded by a patch of light fur. It is smaller than a house cat. It measures 12–17 in long to the base of the tail with the tail adding another 12–17 in. It can weigh from 1.5 to 3.3 lb.

Typically weighing around three pounds, ringtails possess superb hearing and eyes that allow them to move about at night. A nocturnal creature, the ringtail's large eyes and upright ears make it easier for it to move about in the dark. Its fur ranges in coloring from tawny to grayish, and a pointed muzzle with long whiskers resembles that of a fox - which is appropriate in that its very name means ‘clever little fox’. Its tail is about a foot long, with seven to nine black rings and is about the same length as the animal's body. Like its namesake, the ringtail uses this tail for balancing when moving about its habitat. The tail also serves another purpose, acting as a distraction for potential predators. The white rings provide predators with a focus other than the ringtail itself; by grabbing the tail rather than the body, the ringtail has a greater chance of escaping. Additionally, their semi-retractable claws and long tail provide the ringtail with tools ideal for climbing.

1 comment:

  1. I first saw this guy when I stepped out of the top (hot) pool into that next area. He was on a protruding rock to the left near a velcro plant growing out of the side of the wall. He saw me as I saw him and he scrambled up behind the velcro plant.

    That was my first confirmation that the "eyes" I had seen earlier that night and previous nights were in fact ringtail cats.

    We stared at each other for at least five minutes or so. Finally I had to get changed so I walked down the "hallway" to climb up to the entryway where I usually change. By that time he scrambled off and out of sight.

    After I got changed and I started heading back up the canyon I looked to my right, just past the entrance to the canyon that heads south from there, and there were his eyes again. I looked for a couple minutes and then I started waking again. As I was making that first turn to the right there he was again looking at me behind the rocks that are now right in front of me.

    I took some more pictures but they are mostly just eyes in pitch black. As I approached the rock he hid again but when I walked another twenty yards or so, there he was again but this time he was on full display. That's when I got this picture. He's standing up and his tail goes to the right. If you can zoom in you can make out the stripes on the tail.

    What fascinated me was how curious he was of me and the cat like features. Notably the ears. They were triangular and forward facing like a cat.

    I have to say, it was one of my favorite finds at the springs. The very next time I was there I saw another one, I don't think it was the same one because the second one seemed smaller than the first. The second one was spotted just to the right of the huge rock to your right as you begin to enter the springs.