Cacomizli is a small animal that resembles a cross between a marten and a cat. It has excellent climbing skills and exterminates a lot of rodents – that's why it was often tamed before. Now they are less common as pets, but in North America they are sometimes kept – they are kind and affectionate pets, except that not everyone can get used to their voice.
Origin of the species and description
At the beginning of the Cretaceous period, about 140 million years ago, the first placental mammals arose. They occupied the niche that now belongs to hedgehogs, shrews and similar animals, and fed mainly on insects.
For a long time it was difficult for them to go beyond this niche, and only after the extinction of many animals at the end of the Cretaceous period, mammals began to actively develop. They suffered from this extinction much less than reptiles and some other animals that flourished earlier, and were able to occupy the vacated ecological niches. A lot of new species began to appear, but it didn’t come to the raccoons, to which some of them belong, right away. Researchers believe that raccoons are close relatives of bears and mustelids, and common ancestors have been established with bears. It was from them that the first raccoons separated. This happened in Eurasia, but they reached their greatest prosperity in North America. Competition in Eurasia proved too tough for them, and for the most part they were supplanted by viverrids.
But in North America, where fossil raccoons were found at the age of 30 million years, they were in much better conditions, so many new species appeared, and then raccoons penetrated into South America – this happened about 12-15 million years BC. There was no land connection between the continents then – scientists suggest that the ancient raccoons moved from island to island, crossing the straits between them on logs. On the new continent, they were the only predators and gave rise to large species – some raccoons reached the size of a bear. This prosperity ended after the land bridge between the continents was formed – other predators came through it, and large raccoons died out. As a result, only small raccoons, such as kakomitsli, remained from the former diversity.
The genus kakomitli includes two species that differ in a number of characteristics and habitat. The first species lives in North America, and the second in Central. A scientific description of which was made in 1887, its author was E. Cues. Genus name in Latin is Bassariscus.
Appearance and Features
The head of a kakomitli resembles a marten and differs mainly in long ears, and they can be either pointed or rounded. But his torso in structure is more similar to representatives of the cat. But the animal does not belong to either mustelids or cats – it is the closest relative of raccoons, as evidenced by the color similar to them. How short is it – 13-16 cm, and it weighs a little – 800-1200 g, but at the same time its body is quite long: it can reach 40-45 cm or more, and this is without a tail.
A it is fluffy and also long – 35-55 cm. Some paws are short, but it uses them deftly – it is able to climb rocks and climb trees well, which helps in hunting. In many ways, this dexterity is possible due to the structure of the bones of the hind legs, which allow you to make a turn of 180 degrees. The body itself is also capable of bending very strongly, which helps to crawl into narrow crevices. Therefore, the movements of the animal may seem unusual.
They seem to be downright acrobats: they easily climb rocks that seem impregnable, and descend from them, and they can even do it head down. The tail helps keep balance. The more rugged the terrain, the easier it is for them to hunt, because obstacles interfere with their prey much more – if it is not a bird. The coat is yellow, less often brown with black, the tail of the same tones, striped. On the belly, the coat is lighter. There is a drawing around the eyes: a dark ring, it is surrounded by a light one, and the rest of the face is overgrown with dark hair.
Interesting fact: After each meal, which one thoroughly cleans its muzzle and paws, very reminiscent of these cats .
Where does wt live?
Two species live each in their range. North American occupies the southern part of North America. They can be found in many US states, from California in the west to the borders of Louisiana in the east. They are distributed northward as far as Oregon, Wyoming and Kansas. Approximately half of their habitat is in Mexico – which inhabit its entire northern and central part, approximately to the area of u200bu200bthe city of Puebla in the south. These animals are most often found in areas no higher than 1,000 – 1,300 meters above sea level, but they can also live in mountains up to 3,000 m high. The second species lives to the south, and its range begins exactly where it ends in the first species . It includes the southern states of Mexico, such as Vercarus, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Yucatan and others.
Also, this species lives on the territory of some other states:
- El Salvador;
- Costa Rica;
Since this animal is unpretentious in nutrition, it is not too demanding on the area for habitation, and can settle in a very different terrain. Often prefers rocky terrain, canyons, coniferous or oak forests. They can live in thickets of shrubs, primarily juniper, chaparral. There are many near the coasts, although they are able to live in arid areas, even in deserts – but at the same time they choose a place closer to a water source. Some people do not always settle in remote areas – some, on the contrary, prefer to choose a place closer to people. The Central American species lives in tropical forests of all major types, prefers undergrowth, and also inhabits bushes. It can be found in a wide variety of terrain, from wet to dry. But they still do not like excessive humidity and, if it rains for a long time, they move to drier lands.
Now you know where the cat lives. Let's see what he eats.
What eats what?
They can eat both plant and animal food. Love the last one more. They can hunt not only insects and mice, but also larger prey, such as squirrels and rabbits. Rodents are exterminated very effectively – before which they were often tamed precisely because of this.
They also hunt lizards, snakes, catch birds. Often they look for prey near water bodies, where they come across various amphibians. It can be said that they are able to eat almost any living creature, which they have enough strength and dexterity to catch – they are completely picky in food. The digestive system is strong enough – not enough to digest poisonous animals, but enough to feed on carrion as well, which they do when they fail to catch live prey. They spend a lot of time hunting – they track down prey, they try to seize a good moment for an attack, because sometimes their victims are quite capable of fighting back.
They willingly eat fruits and other fruits, especially like persimmons and bananas, often feast on juniper berries and mistletoe. They can eat acorns and drink tree sap. Of course, animal food is more nutritious, because what kind of people prefer it, but still, plant foods make up a significant part of their diet. The ratio largely depends on the season, as well as the area in which the animal lives. Some live in deserts that are poor in vegetation, so they have to hunt more, others live along coasts that are abundant in it, where during the season of ripening berries and fruits you don’t need to hunt at all, because there is plenty of food around.
Features of character and lifestyle
Active at dusk and at night. During the day, they go to nests arranged in hollows of trees, cracks among rocks, caves or abandoned houses. Since they climb very well, they can live in very hard-to-reach, and therefore safe, places. In them, some people rest while the sun is up – these animals generally do not like the heat. Territorial – each male occupies a large area, about 80-130 hectares, females “ownership” is not so large. Moreover, the lands of males cannot intersect, but for males with females, such an intersection often occurs. Most often, neighbors form a couple during the mating season.
Representatives of the North American species mark the boundaries of their territory with urine and a secret released from the anal glands. Central Americans do not do this, but they also do not let strangers in: they scare them away with their voice, while they can squeal, growl or bark loudly. After some matures, he goes in search of his own land, not yet occupied by others. Sometimes he has to travel long distances, and if he still does not find his site, he may end up in a pack. This is typical for the territories most populated by these animals. For some people themselves, such a development of events is undesirable – in a pack they begin to lead a vagrant lifestyle, conflicts may arise between the animals in it. This is affected by the fact that initially they are still loners and it is difficult for them to get along with relatives.
But this does not mean that they cannot be tamed by a person – they can be kind and affectionate pets, however, it is necessary that they be brought up in captivity from birth. What voice can be very surprising – they have a small set of sounds, and most of them look like either a thin squeal or a cough. Juveniles also squeak and whine, and they can also chirp very strangely, with metallic notes. They love to communicate and are quite friendly, but getting used to the way they do it is not so easy. If you try to catch this animal, it will release a strong-smelling secret, designed to scare off enemies. They live in nature for 7-10 years, then they grow old and can no longer hunt as much, and they become more vulnerable to predators. In captivity, they can live much longer – 15-18 years.
Social structure and reproduction
They mostly live alone, but sometimes they still get together in flocks – this mainly applies to those of them who have changed their whole way of life due to close proximity to people. Such animals can eat in garbage dumps and generally live like stray dogs. Fortunately, most of these animals have not yet switched to this way of life – they live in remote areas alone and prefer to hunt rather than look for waste. Such kakomitsli pair up only when the breeding season begins – this happens in February or in the next few months.
After mating takes place, the female looks for a place where she can give birth – it should be a secluded and shaded lair that is difficult to get close to. Usually they live in the same places, but they do not give birth in their own lairs. Males do not participate in this in any way and generally leave the female.
Although there are exceptions: there are males who take care of the offspring after it is born, feed and train. But this doesn't happen often. It takes almost two months for the female to bear, so the cubs usually appear in May or June, there are up to five of them.
Only the born cubs are very small – they weigh 25-30 g, and are completely defenseless. The first month they feed only on mother's milk, and only at its end, or even on the second, do their eyes open. After that, they begin to try other foods, but mostly continue to eat milk. By the age of 3 months, they learn to hunt, and a month later they leave their mother and begin to live separately. A waht becomes sexually mature after 10 months of age, by which time the next breeding season is just around the corner.
Which's natural enemies
The animal is small in size, and therefore it can become the prey of many predators.
The most often hunted:
- red wolf;
one of these predators, which is trying to hide in the most inaccessible place, using its dexterity. Often moments are everything here: predators usually have better eyesight and hearing, which they use to catch some by surprise, but this prey is not easy.
They squeeze into the narrowest gaps, from where the predator cannot get them, and after a while they despair and leave in search of new prey. If it was not possible to do this and what kind of mouse falls into his paws or claws, then he secretes an odorous secret, arches his tail and fluffs his hair, becoming visually much larger.
Both are designed to scare off the attacker, but most of the predators hunting for any predator are already well aware of these features. However, a bad smell can confuse them and still let it slip away. Unaccustomed to such prey, predators may even let him go, deciding that it is more expensive for him to attack.
Interesting fact: When prospectors started some food for hunting rodents, they made a special box for them and put it in a warm place. All day the pet slept in it, and they tried not to disturb him – then at night he went out full of energy and started hunting.
Population and status kind
Both species are of least concern. Their habitat is quite wide and, despite the territoriality, there are many of these animals in nature. They are even allowed to be hunted, and every year in the US alone, hunters get 100,000 skins – however, they are not very highly valued. The damage from hunting for the population is not critical. Its exact assessment is difficult, since many animals prefer to live in remote corners, but it is likely that both species are represented by tens of millions of individuals.
The main habitat of which is the forest, they depend on it, and therefore its ongoing logging in Central America negatively affects the population of these animals. They lose their habitual habitats, begin to wander around in flocks and damage cultural plantings, their life expectancy is reduced, and there are no conditions for reproduction. Therefore, in Costa Rica and Belize, they are considered endangered and measures are being taken to preserve local populations.
Interesting fact: the Latin name of the genus is translated as “chanterelle”, and the word kakomitli itself is translated from Aztec like “half mind”. They got the English name ringtail because of the stripes on the tail. But the list does not end there either: earlier they were often bred in the settlements of prospectors, so the name “miner's cat” stuck behind them.
Inhabiting in the natural environment and leading the usual their way of life does not interfere with people at all, and even they catch their eye very rarely: although this animal is widespread in North America, not everyone knows about it at all. If you take some into the house from birth, then he will become a good pet and become attached to the owners.