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.
Average mass: 900 g.
Average basal metabolic rate: 3.537 W.
Habitat and Ecology
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
Life History and Behavior
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).
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.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/near threatened
- 1994Vulnerable(Groombridge 1994)
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
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
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
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