A ‘rarely seen’ creature snuck into a home down the chimney in southern Utah.
The homeowner called the state Department of Wildlife Resources to get the wild animal out. Conservation officials set traps in the room with the fireplace, and “within the day the animal was caught and released,” officials said on Facebook on February 1.
The release video shows the furry creature – a curly tail – glancing curiously at the conservation officer who released it before scampering away through the snow.
“Ringtails are fairly widespread throughout Utah but are rarely seen,” the department said on Facebook, adding that they are primarily nocturnal and feed on insects, small mammals and fruit.
The animal, which looks like a smaller, sleeker version of a raccoon, is so secretive, several people wrote, they didn’t even know ringtails existed in Utah.
According to the department’s field leader, ringtails are “apparently rare” across the state. They generally call the Southwest and Southern United States home, and they are also in Mexico.
The ringtails’ preferred habitats are rocky desert and forested areas, says the field guide. They build burrows near water between rocks and in small burrows and hollow tree trunks.
One commenter joked the animal “would make an adorable hat,” and the animals are actually harvested for their fur, the field guide says.
Others just marveled at how they grew up in Utah, not knowing the animals existed.
“This is truly an amazing animal,” they wrote. “Growing up in Utah my entire life, I’ve never heard of this animal.”
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