Ringtails (or ring-tailed cats) might look like something you'd see traversing the jungles of Madagascar, but these amazing bushy-tailed tree-climbers are actually native to North America! Photographer Casey R. Smartt snapped these photos back in January when he set up a camera trap in a tree near his US home. 

Although they're commonly known as ring-tailed cats or miner's cats, these small omnivores (Bassariscus astutus) actually belong to the raccoon family (Procyonidae). You might be surprised (we certainly were!) to find that despite its exotic look, the species is doing just fine in the wild. Ringtails are elusive and hard to spot, but that's down to their nocturnal lifestyle, not rarity. We suspect that this particular guy (or gal) was searching for some lovin', since ringtails are most active during their breeding season, which stretches from February to May.

As you can see, these raccoon-like animals are phenomenal climbers. A special ankle joint allows them to bend their feet up to a full 180 degrees!  

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