Carla Brennan's Blog

Reflections and Photos from The Big Trip and Beyond . .

DAY 18 – Whiskeytown Lake National Recreation Area, CA


October 16, 2012
I am excited to report that I saw an animal that I have never seen, a mammal I only had vague notions of, barely knew existed and did not think it lived in northern California.

I was sitting quietly in the dark at about 8 PM, waiting for Chris to return from Redding with dinner. I had two flashlights but both were losing power so I turned them off, only lighting them when I heard a noise I thought I should investigate. At one point, I heard some rustling and footsteps and illuminated two deer nearby. They ran off when discovered.  This is black bear territory so I was a little concerned about a visit from one.

Then I heard something quickly climb the tree nearest me. Shining the light upward I first saw a long, beautiful, thick, black and white striped tail, a couple feet long. I immediately think of raccoon but the tail was too long and the wrong colors. Then the animal curls around the trunk and looks at me. I see a sweet face that looks like a cross between a cat and a fox, with big dark eyes and large ears rounded at the top. It is a warm tan on its upper side and white underneath and about the size of a house cat except for the incredible tail. I am flummoxed; what is this animal? I take pride in knowing my fauna. In the back of my mind I recalled something similar, a relative of the raccoon that I thought lived in the southern desert. Yes, this is a ringtail! (Also known as ringtail cat.) I am thrilled to witness this magnificent creature. The ringtail quickly jumps to another tree and disappears.

The next day I mention my siting at the visitor’s center and the rangers are excited and say its rare to see a ringtail since they are nocturnal and secretive. Have you seen one?

2 thoughts on “DAY 18 – Whiskeytown Lake National Recreation Area, CA

  1. Wow! Carla, you’ve been so diligent with your blog. I’ve been busy and away for a few weeks, and now I see how much I’ve missed. Thank you for all the photos and reports — both are just beautiful.
    We did see a ringtail once, walking near our campground in Zion NP a few years ago.

  2. Thanks, Bob! I hope I don’t get too overwhelmed by writing this blog or tire of it. Someone just sent me an email photo of a ringtail they caught on camera when it jumped on their deck in Big Sur. I have also enjoyed reading about them. They were tamed by miner’s to be effective mousers and still called miner’s cats by some. Ringtails apparently make good pets, gentle and curious. They behave somewhat like cats, self-cleaning and use a litter box. (. . . but I’m NOT planning on getting one!)

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