People who share the same first and second names are not necessarily related. Animals and plants whose first and second names repeat can be considered as the equivalents of siblings when it comes to scientific nomenclature. They will be considered as the equivalents of close relatives when the first name is the same and the second differs.
Such can be said of the cacomistle of Central America and Mexico and the ringtail of Mexico and the United States of America. Both mammals look cat-, fox- and raccoon-like even though they each belong to the raccoon-like -- procyonid -- family of mammals. They overlap in bearing the same first name through their categorization in the genus Bassariscus. They nevertheless split over the second name, with cacomistles carrying the species name sumichrasti -- subdivided into subgenera latrans, notinus, oaxacensis, sumichrasti, variabilis -- and ringtails the species name astutus.
As is the case with their ringtail relatives, cacomistles convince viewers of their feline looks with:
- Adult body lengths of 15-18.5 inches (38.1-47 centimeters), shoulder heights of 6.69 inches (17 centimeters) and weights of 2.2-11.02 pounds (1-5 kilograms);
- Siamese cat-like body colors ranging from buff and dark brown to grey.
They give fox-like impressions with their elongated, pointed snouts. They manage effective raccoon imitations with:
- Big, circular, dark black to brown or purple eyes;
- Facial masks;
- Musky body odor, particularly when anxious, frightened or injured.
At the same time, a cacomistle’s eyes may convey the impression that something is not quite right with the “raccoon” in question. A cacomistle’s eyes indeed peer from facial masks which are the reverse of a raccoon’s: white with black edging, not black with white.
Eyeshine designates the color that the eyes appear to be upon reflecting nocturnal or photographic lights. Like ringtails, cacomistles may exhibit one of two colors under such circumstances. Their eyes suggest a raccoon’s when they look or photograph as yellow during nocturnal foraging or photo opportunities. They will not at all when they project the color red.
So cacomistles and ringtails have much in common. The above-mentioned pooling of attributes inspires touting both as the only living species in the
It likewise inspires a pooling of common names, with:
- Cacomistles being misidentified as ringtail in English and rintel in Spanish;
- Ringtails being named northern cacomistles in English and cacomixtle norteño in Spanish.
With so many similarities, is it possible to differentiate visually between the two species?