Bassariscus sumichrasti is found from southern Mexico to western Panama (Poglayen-Neuwall 1989).
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Typical length is 380 to 470mm, with a tail that is 390 to 530mm long. Shoulder height is 170mm. Coloring is buffed gray to brownish, with a tail ringed in buff and black bands. Ears are pointed. Feet have naked soles and nonretractile claws. Low ridges connect cusps on the premolars and molars (Nowak 1999). Canines are well-developed. There are 40 teeth. The body has a musk-like odor (Poglayen-Neuwall 1989).
Average mass: 900 g.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average mass: 900 g.
Average basal metabolic rate: 3.537 W.
Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean Mangroves Habitat
This taxon is found in the Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion, but not necessarily exclusive to this region.The Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves occupy a long expanse of disjunctive coastal zone along the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico for portions of Central America and Mexico. The ecoregion has a very high biodiversity and species richness of mammals, amphibians and reptiles. As with most mangrove systmems, the Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean ecoregion plays an important role in shoreline erosion prevention from Atlantic hurricanes and storms; in addition these mangroves are significant in their function as a nursery for coastal fishes, turtles and other marine organisms.
This disjunctive Neotropical ecoregion is comprised of elements lying along the Gulf of Mexico coastline of Mexico south of the Tampico area, and along the Caribbean Sea exposures of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.There are 507 distinct vertebrate species that have been recorded in the Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion.
Chief mangrove tree species found in the central portion of the ecoregion (e.g. Belize) are White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), and Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans); Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) is a related tree associate. Red mangrove tends to occupy the more seaward niches, while Black mangrove tends to dominate the more upland niches. Other plant associates occurring in this central part of the ecoregion are Swamp Caway (Pterocarpus officinalis), Provision Tree (Pachira auatica) and Marsh Fern (Acrostichum aureum).
The Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves ecoregion has a number of mammalian species, including: Mexican Agouti (Dasyprocta mexicana, CR); Mexican Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra, EN); Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii, EN); Central American Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi, EN); Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla); Deppe's Squirrel (Sciurus deppei), who ranges from Tamaulipas, Mexico to the Atlantic versant of Costa Rica; Jaguar (Panthera onca, NT), which requires a large home range and hence would typically move between the mangroves and more upland moist forests; Margay (Leopardus wiedii, NT); Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata); Mexican Big-eared Bat (Plecotus mexicanus, NT), a species found in the mangroves, but who mostly roosts in higher elevation caves; Central American Cacomistle (Bassariscus sumichrasti).
A number of reptiles have been recorded within the ecoregion including the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas, EN); Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata, CR); Central American River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii, CR), distributed along the Atlantic drainages of southern Mexico to Guatemala; Morelets Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii, LR/CD), a crocodile found along the mangroves of Yucatan, Belize and the Atlantic versant of Guatemala.
Some of the other reptiles found in this ecoregion are the Adorned Graceful Brown Snake (Rhadinaea decorata); Allen's Coral Snake (Micrurus alleni); Eyelash Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii); False Fer-de-lance (Xenodon rabdocephalus); Blood Snake (Stenorrhina freminvillei); Bridled Anole (Anolis frenatus); Chocolate Anole (Anolis chocorum), found in Panamanian and Colombian lowland and mangrove subcoastal forests; Furrowed Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys areolata. NT); Brown Wood Turtle (LR/NT); Belize Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus insularis), which occurs only in this ecoregion along with the Peten-Veracruz moist forests.
Salamanders found in this ecoregion are: Cukra Climbing Salamander (Bolitoglossa striatula); Rufescent Salamander (Bolitoglossa rufescens); Alta Verapaz Salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini, NT), the largest tropical lungless salamander, whose coastal range spans Honduras, Guatemala and the Cayo District of Belize; Colombian Worm Salamander (Oedipina parvipes), which occurs from central Panama to Colombia; La Loma Salamander (Bolitoglossa colonnea), a limited range taxon occurring only in portions of Costa Rica and Panama;.Central American Worm Salamander (Oedipina elongata), who inhabits very moist habitats; Cienega Colorado Worm Salamander (Oedipina uniformis, NT), a limited range taxon found only in parts of Costa Rica and Panama, including higher elevation forests than the mangroves; Limon Worm Salamander (Oedipina alfaroi, VU), a restricted range caecilian found only on the Atlantic versant of Costa Rica and extreme northwest Panama. Caecilians found in the ecoregion are represented by: La Loma Caecilian (Dermophis parviceps), an organism found in the Atlantic versant of Panama and Costa Rica up to elevation 1200 metres
- C.Michael Hogan & World Wildlife Fund. 2013. "Mesoamerican Gulf-Caribbean mangroves".. Encyclopedia of Earth, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington DC ed.Peter Saundry
- William G. D'Arcy, D. Mireya and A. Correa. 1985. The Botany and Natural History of Panama, Universidad de Panamá. , 455 pages
Wet, evergreen tropical woodlands and mountain forests are the preferred habitat of -B. sumichrasti,- though seasonally it will inhabit drier deciduous forests. It can be found from sea level to elevations of 2000 meters (Poglayen-Neuwall 1989).
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest
Habitat and Ecology
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: wild: 23.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Females usually come into estrus between February and June, but estrus can occur at any time. Estrus lasts for 44 days; females are receptive for only one day. Gestation lasts for from 63 to 66 days, after which one young is born in a nest or den in a tree. Newborns have a mass of 25 grams. Young open their eyes at 34 days, can eat solid food at six to seven weeks, are able to forage along with their mother at two months, and are weaned at three months. Although the mother is responsible for most of the care of the young, she will sometimes tolerate the presence of the father and allow him to associate and play with the young. Sexual maturity in both sexes coincides with dispersal at the age of 10 months. The lifespan of -B. sumichrasti-has not been studied in the wild, but captive animals are known to reach 23 years of age (Poglayen-Neuwall 1989).
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average birth mass: 25 g.
Average gestation period: 64 days.
Average number of offspring: 2.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 300 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 300 days.
Nowhere in its range is B. sumichrasti common. This is especially true in Costa Rica, where it inhabits only a very small area (Poglayen-Neuwall 1989). It is completely dependent on forests, making it particularly susceptible to deforestation (Nowak 1999).
CITES: appendix iii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Vulnerable(Groombridge 1994)
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Domestic poultry sometimes falls prey to B. sumichrasti (Poglayen-Neuwall 1989).
The cacomistle, Bassariscus sumichrasti, is a nocturnal, arboreal and omnivorous member of the carnivoran family Procyonidae. Its preferred habitats are wet, tropical, evergreen woodlands and mountain forests, though seasonally it will venture into drier deciduous forests.
Nowhere in its range (from southern Mexico to western Panama) is B. sumichrasti common. This is especially true in Costa Rica, where it inhabits only a very small area. It is completely dependent on forest habitat, making it particularly susceptible to deforestation.
The term cacomistle is from the Nahuatl language (tlahcomiztli) and means "half cat" or "half mountain lion"; it is sometimes also used to refer to the ringtail, Bassariscus astutus, a similar species that inhabits arid northern Mexico and the American Southwest.
The cacomistle is part of the family Procyonidae which includes other small omnivores such as the raccoon and the Brazilian coati. The cacomistle and its close relative the ringtail cat are the only living species of the subfamily Procyoninae and the genus Bassariscus. Within the Cacomistle species there are 5 subspecies (Bassariscus sumichrasti variabilis, Bassariscus sumichrasti sumichrasti, Bassariscus sumichrasti oaxacensis, Bassariscus sumichrasti notinus, and Bassariscus sumichrasti latrans).
The Central American cacomistle's body is 38–47 cm in length, which is attached to a tail of approximately the same length, if not longer (typically 39–53 cm long). The male cacomistle is often slightly longer than its female counterpart, however both male and female have approximately the same weight, usually between 1 and 1.5 kg. Their body consists of dark brown and grey fur, which stands as a stark contrast to the black and white striped tail. The tail stripes are the most defined near the animal's posterior end and gradually fade to a solid black at the end of the tail. The cacomistle is often confused with its close relative the Ring-tailed cat (Scientific name: Bassariscus astutus) because of the similarity of their appearance, but unlike the ring-tail cat the cacomistle does not have retractable claws. The cacomistle can also be identified by its faded tail and the observation of ears that come to a point.
Habitat and range
The cacomistle inhabits the tropical forests of Central America, from south central Mexico to Panama. These animals are quite solitary and thus spread themselves out, with each cacomistle having a home range of at least 20 hectares (an area equivalent to 20 sports fields )and are typically seen in the middle and upper levels of the canopy. Throughout their broad range this species is found to inhabit a wide variety of different forests ecosystems. In Mexico the cacomistle tends to avoid oak forest, secondary forest, and overgrown pastures, but in Costa Rica the cacomistle has been shown to favor those exact habitats.
Cacomistles are considered generalist feeders, because they can survive on a wide variety of different feedstuffs. The diet of this species consists primarily of fruits, insects, small vertebrates such as reptiles, amphibians, and rodents, the specificity of these food options depends on what is available in the particular habitat in which an individual dwells. The bromeliad is an excellent reservoir for food in the southern edge of the cacomistle's range, as these plants naturally collect water, insects and small animals found high in the canopy.
Mating season is the only time cacomistles interact with each other, and it is only briefly as the female is only receptive to male approaches for one day. After mating, the female cacomistle undergoes a gestation period of approximately two months before giving birth to a single offspring. When the cub is three months old it is weaned, and then taught hunting and survival skills by its mother before going off to develop their own territory.
- Samudio, R., Pino, J.L. & Helgen, K. (2008). Bassariscus sumichrasti. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
- http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cacomistle "The Free Dictionary - Cacomistle" See several pronunciation versions and hear it pronounced.
- Cacomistle Pictures and Facts. Retrieved on March 19, 2012 from: http://thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Carnivora/Procyonidae/Bassariscus/Bassariscus-sumichrasti.html Cacomistle Pictures and Facts
- Garcia N.E., Vaughen C.S., McCoy M.B. (2002). Cacomistle Ecology in Costa Rica. Vida Silvestre Neotropical: 11(1-2).
- How big is a hectare?. Retrieved March 22, 2012 from http://metricviews.org.uk/2007/11/how-big-hectare/
- Trout, J.(2006). Central American Cacomistle. Retrieved on March 22, 2012 from http://itech.pensacolastate.edu/sctag/Central_American_cacomistle/index.htm