Two ringtail babies roaming around new home at Oregon Zoo - KPTV - FOX 12

Two ringtail babies roaming around new home at Oregon Zoo

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Photo: Oregon Zoo Photo: Oregon Zoo

Two ringtail babies are roaming around their new home at the Oregon Zoo, but mostly at night.

The kits were born June 21. They are now getting comfortable in the zoo's Great Northwest area.

The ringtail babies were born mostly hairless, but they now have the same raccoon-like patterns as their mother. They also have long striped tails and "Yoda-like ears," according to zookeepers.

Their mom, Violet, was rescued as a kit last year from the rafters of a Texas resort. Earlier this year, Violet was introduced to the male ringtail Toudle Lou - affectionately known by zoo workers as Toodles - and keepers said the pair hit it off right away. 

Lab scientist Dr. Candace Scarlata had been monitoring hormones in Violet and noted a steep, steady rise in the ringtail's progesterone in the spring, a possible sign of pregnancy.

Scarlata tipped off the zoo's animal-care team to Violet's results. That provided keepers with time to offer proper nesting choices and add some privacy panels on the "Cascade Mining Company" exhibit glass to help ensure a successful delivery for the young first-time mom.

Ringtails are an elusive, mostly nocturnal species found across dry regions of North America from Oregon to Mexico and east to Oklahoma. They often inhabit pinyon pine and juniper tree hollows, as well as rocky cliffs, crevices and canyons, lining their dens with moss, leaves or grass

As Violet's rafter-origin attests, the species also has a knack for setting up camp in human-made buildings. Miners of the 1800s intentionally kept ringtails in their camps to act as mousers, earning them the nickname "miner's cats," according to the Oregon Zoo. 

As the two new kits get older and bolder, keepers will be peeling back the privacy panels, but for now the band-tailed family is only infrequently on public view. Visitors may spot them through the gaps, but it will be tricky. Ringtails prefer the night and the family tends to hole up in one of their many nest boxes during the day.

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