Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Rarely Seen Critter of the North Coast

Photo from Wicapedi. Cick to enlarge. Gemboy, check out the rock.




So you think that you have seen everything that there is to see here on the north coast?

This sweet little animal is a Ringtail Cat. They are quite tame and friendly if taken from their mom before their eyes open and hand fed with an eyedropper. They live to about fourteen years of age. They are raised by the mother while the male feeds her. Their eyes open when they are about one month old. They are hard to keep because they are loners, and if they get out of the house they will never return. Which as I understand, can be quite heartbreaking.

They were trapped by the early settlers and kept as house cats to catch mice. The settlers kept them in a box by the wood stove, where they enjoyed the warmth just like a kitty cat does. Most people that kept them as pets, kept them in a very large cage, and only took them out to play with them when they were under close supervision to avoid their escaping. Although they are friendly and fun, they make poor pets because of their desire to be free. The other reason that they make poor pets is because they are extremely active and can climb anything, and nothing is hidden from them. Oh, did I mention that they are nocturnal? And like to scurry and play all night?

The big reason that you have probably not seen them, even though they are said to be plentiful on the North Coast, is because they are very nocturnal. I have only seen three in my whole life.

Back in the early sixties, I built a walk-in refrigerator for a person that lived on a ranch in Honeydew by the name of Bob Shinn. He had one in a cage by the back porch. He took the Cat out several times while I was there just to show me, but they are VERY nocturnal, and the light hurts their eyes. The cat couldn’t wait to get back in his box. Bob said that the Cat was extremely active at night playing in his cage.

They are most closely related to the Raccoon family, but they can scamper around a tree like a grey squirrel. Their hind feet turn around backwards for climbing down trees going forward. They are just a little smaller than a house cat. They are seldom run over in the road because of their desire to be secretive, and because of their dexterity. They are quick like a kitty.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

ernie,i have only seen one in my life.it was about fifteen miles east of weaverville on hiway 299.and it was a F.O.R.D. "found on road dead"

Rose said...

I have a friend who has seen these - in McKinleyville. I'm sending her your link.

Mike said...

Looks a bit dangerous to me... not sure I would want to cuddle it like I would a cat! very nice read however on these guys.

Fred said...

"Photo from Wicapedi".

That's Wikipedia, Ernie, but thanks for the post. I've never seen one of those in my life.

Kym said...

I had forgotten them. I haven't seen one since I was pretty young and had just forgotten them. Thank you for reminding me of these lovely lithe creatures.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Fred, The devil you say.

Accuracy in spelling has never been my fortay.

songbirrd said...

Ernie we had a whole family take up residence in our summer home at Ruth Lake one year. My dad live trapped them and relocated them all except one really young one he brought to me. Truly beautiful they are. It got out of its cage once in the middle of the night and if you dont think that was fun. I didnt think it looked too happy and did not tame really well so it went to the same place we relocated the rest of the family.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Songbird, you probably skipped this part:
"This sweet little animal is a Ringtail Cat. They are quite tame and friendly if taken from their mom before their eyes open and hand fed with an eyedropper."

At any rate they could never be a good pet because they want to be free, and they are nocturnal. They are much best left wild!

Anonymous said...

Gol Dang Ernie, UFO's and crystals and cute little animals... are you letting your inner hippie out?
Course I love all those topics and am only ribbin' ya a bit.

Indie said...

I've heard of those living around here but have never seen one. You can sure tell they're nocturnal by those big round eyes. With that tail they look a little bit like raccoons. Wait, I just looked it up; they're relatives.

EkoVox said...

Did anyone mention they're pretty good eatin'? Especially with roasted chestnuts around this time of year.

ben said...

I knew a guy out past Whitethorn who claimed that when he left his cabin windows open at night, the ringtails came in and out. I think I saw one on the Alderpoint road one night. It was moving fast but the tail was splendid.

ross sherburn said...

these creatures are so rarely seen,that i think something should be said about bigfoot sightings also!!!

BTW,this may open up a can of worms!

Ernie Branscomb said...

" EkoVox said...
Did anyone mention they're pretty good eatin'? Especially with roasted chestnuts around this time of year."


Jeez Eko, that's disgusting. They go better with carrots, potatoes and onions.

Ross, Bigfoot is Ekovox’s bailiwick, I try to stay out of Willa’ Crick.

oldmanriver said...

Seen a martin in Piercy in the 90's. Came down the hillside from the direction of 271 crossed a back yard and down the rip-rap to the river. Several of us were close enough to see how it wasnt an otter, our shared perception of what we saw confirmed when we found some pictures.

ross sherburn said...

bigfoot was spotted around southern humboldt county in the early days,long before he was popular!just some FYI, and BTW,i know the true story of our nor-cal bigfoot fellow,he is from korbel,not willer krick!!!

EkoVox said...

Actually, Bigfoot is from Bluff Krick, not Willa Krick.....but, we capitalized on the name for all of our businesses, anyway. Bigfoot Rafting, Bigfoot Golf Course, Bigfoot Lumber, etc.

oldmanriver said...

Thanks for opening the can Ross.
I elicited a Bigfoot story from a Piercy local in the 80's. Grizzled fellow who had his sighting between Piercy and the coast. If I can recollect without embellishing...the basic story was a nightime encounter with an unknown creature. The usually fearless dog is intimidated and won't go outside while somethin' big picked up a 50 gallon drum and repeatedly smashing it on a corrugated tin roof shed or animal pen(?). The clincher for me believing him was his description of the rank odor, something I have experienced more than once in my own suspicious encounters.
That's another story or two.

ross sherburn said...

i still say bigfoot is originally from the blue lake/korbel area!he just moved a little farther east in the late forties!1948 or 1949 is when this happened!

Anonymous said...

tell us more Ross!

ross sherburn said...

now remember, this only concerns the bigfoot around the willow creek areas,none of the others.this story was told to me about forty years ago.it came from a good source and makes sense to me.there was a very big and tall indian kid that lived around blue lake.he was probably in his late teens in the late forties??? he was mentally handicapped.i was told,he may have been drinking and he killed a man in a bar in blue lake.then he took off and just disappeared and never seen again.some say,he probably went into the surrounding mountains and lived off the land and stole food and supplies from local homes.anyway this is the best explanation i have ever heard about our bigfoot being real.anyone else ever heard something similar to this???these spottings and other strange things that were reported over the years could have been him!

Robin Shelley said...

According to what I read in the Willits paper, Big Foot is living down around Laytonville now, toward the end of the freeway in the Shimmins Ridge area.

Jeez, Ernie! I never know what I'm going to see here... got any civet cats?
(:

ross sherburn said...

wouldn't be my bigfoot,he's too old to travel that far now!

Robin Shelley said...

I've wanted to see Big Foot for as long as I can remember, Ross. I lived in Mendo Co. for 50 years & never had the pleasure. Thought I might get the opportunity when I moved to Oregon... then I read he's been spotted near L'ville... I thought, "Great! I move up here & he moves down there. What's up with that?" Your comment gives me hope. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Now that the star wars series is over, I think, he has a lot of time for wandering. Wonder how much he made to play a Wookie?

oldmanriver said...

Twice over by Mt. Shasta, I encountered a smell that was soooo rank. Makes you go what was that?
Not the smell of death, and I am pretty sure the Lemurians bathe. I have been in bear and mountain lion dens and the smell wasn't anything like that.
The second time I was coming down the mountain to where I was camping around 3,000 feet. When layed down on my under the stars bed I heard a throaty screech that made the hair stand up and made for a long night. I would prefer to believe that it was a mountain lion sound, but it was a very throaty, deeper ...screech.
Two mornings later when a deer snorted in my ear to wake me, well, he got a pretty good reaction.
But the smell is a tell-tale sign, and until some hunter or woodsman tells me what could be so rank that was still alive, I will guess I smelled a Bigfoot.
To this day, I always leave a little soap behind when I camp.

ross sherburn said...

i just wanted to repeat what i said before.has anyone heard a similar story of bigfoot, that i posted before?that being, about the huge young indian boy that killed a man in a bar in bluelake.BTW,robin,i used to live on branscomb rd.,about a mile out of town.we lived near ford&sherburn forest products.the mill ran out of timber and shut down about 1960.carlson road runs out to the old millsite

oldmanriver said...

I think Ernie's polite response to my scent o'the Bigfoot comments was to post info on the stinky badger.
Skunk Ape is probably the second most common name for Bigfoot. I found one site that said that only 10% of sitings were accompanied by the scent.
Here is a National Geographic article on bigfoot.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1023_031023_bigfoot.html

omr said...

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/1023_031023_bigfoot.html

Robin Shelley said...

I know the place you refer to, Ross. I've always known it as "the old Ford mill". I used to go swimming down there once in awhile when I was a kid... it really wasn't a very good swimming hole but it was good enough on a hot day. I lived on what is now called North Rd. then... probably about a mile from you. When did you live there? I'm talkin' mid-1960s.

ross sherburn said...

yes, it would be referred to as the ford mill.frank ford ran the mill,my dad ran the logging operation.but it was still a legal partnership.there was also sherburn mills at berger creek,willits and covelo.the mill at laytonville was the largest one.they also had a mill in garberville by the briceland bridge. 30s,40s&50s

ross sherburn said...

robin,i lived in laytonville in the early 50s.there was a falling out between ford&sherburn.we moved back to garberville about 1955.my dad started logging for coombs,dimmick,benbow and several others in the area.what is funny,ford and my dad grew up in covelo together.then in the last years of their lives,lived just several miles apart here in the corning area.they even took a trip to alaska together when they were in their 70s.

Robin Shelley said...

You're a little older than me, Ross, but my maiden name is Shepard. Maybe you knew some of my cousins or aunts & uncles? The mill was never in operation in my lifetime. Glad things worked out between your dad & Mr. Ford.

ross sherburn said...

robin,thanks for saying"a little older"i was born in 1951.my folks had me late in life.at one time,i was like a son to corky&everett!i'll let you fill in the last name???

spyrock said...

ross, you are young at heart. i was wondering how old you were but i couldn't believe that you seemed to be younger than me. well, you are. you are about the same age as larry foord who is the oldest son of catherine ruth simmerly foord who was the daughter of lenora mcgee of westport and guy simmerly. catherine was a beautiful blond born in 1930 and she married duane richard foord who lives in willets now but they lived in ukiah. duane worked at a lumber products mill in ukiah. larry is the conservative son but the one i know best and we used to play together a lot on the ranch in stinson beach. the younger boys, stephen, russel and samuel were pretty wild boys in ukiah back in the day. they all sort of look like me. otherwise, i think i've seen a ringtail cat at my girlfriends house one night when the motion light went on. it was too skinny to be a fox and it had a beautiful bushy tail and it was smiling at me like a chesere cat. big foot i've never seen but i did buy one of his carpets one time.

ross"ridgecrawler"sherburn said...

spyrock,there was a foords restaurant in ukiah at one time,are these the same people??and BTW,i'm not young at heart,i'm getting to be an old fud!LOL

Robin Shelley said...

Hanks!
Deputy Hanks.
I was soundly trounced by one of their "pet" bucks when I was 11 or 12 years old.
I loved Corky!

ross sherburn said...

corky used to take us swimming up in rattlesnake creek.i used to stay with them for a couple of weeks during the summer.

Robin Shelley said...

I wonder if I ever met you, Ross. Did you know the Gordons (Joni, et al) who lived in the old two-story house on the edge of Steele Ln. in front of Corky's place? I used to spend some time there. There was an old man who lived across the road... can't remember his name... but he had a HUGE Airedale dog.

ross sherburn said...

robin,you are making my brain hurt!! its not that i have c.r.s.,its just that its been awhile since i was around laytonville.in round numbers!!!how much younger are you,than me??? hope its OK to ask??

Robin Shelley said...

I am 52.

ross sherburn said...

thanks robin,i'll be in touch!

ross sherburn said...

robin,i heard from one of my sources,that your husbands name might be jim???

Robin Shelley said...

My husband's name IS Jim. Do you know him?

ross sherburn said...

no robin,i don't know your husband.my source moved away from laytonville about two years ago and landed over in our area.he used to work for baileys and now delivers parts to the business where i work.i hadn't seen him for several months because i was on a fire near weaverville.anyway,when i saw him the other day,i just couldn't help,but bring the shelley name up!!!

Robin Shelley said...

Well, whoever your source is moved away about the same time I did... tell him hello... we probably know him & like him. (-: Hope he liked us!

ross sherburn said...

john whaley probably wouldn't mind if i mentioned his name here,he seems to be a real nice fellow!!!

Robin Shelley said...

John Whaley is, indeed, a pretty nice fellow! I used to work with his mother, Linda, at the newspaper years ago & knew John best when he was, ahem, a little boy. Tell him we send our best & hope he is enjoying his new location as much as we are ours.
I love this "small world" stuff!

ross sherburn said...

robin,i will give him your regards when i see him next time.i tried to get him interested in ernies blog,but kinda hard to explain it to him,because we were both at work at the time!did you know an older man by the name of BOB HARP,he was crippled up??

Robin Shelley said...

I knew A Bob Harpe, yes. He was a few years ahead of me in high school... married a local girl named Bonnie & now lives in Redwood Valley. I'm not aware of him being crippled... maybe it was his father, though I don't recall him being crippled, either. Can picture his dad but, for the life of me, can't remember his name - LOL! His mom was Bernice & he had an uncle named Jack. Same family?

ross sherburn said...

should be the same harpes???would have been his father,same name!pretty slender fellow and crippled up.probably would be in his 90s by now??if still around?is it OK to use ernies spot here for our chatting???BTW,how do i get the white"b" with orange background&blue name lettering like most of you folks have? thanks!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross, Click on this to get a blogger account

There are some advantages, once you sign up and get a blogger account, nobody can replicate or post as you, because you will have that name registered. It is free.

And if you make a mistake and post something wrong there is a little garbage can at the bottom that you can click on, and your comment will disappear. There is one time right after I got my blogger account that I made an extremely embarassing typo, and I was able to make it disappear. Whew!!!

You guys can use my blog for anykind of polite exchange. I enjoy seeing people make connetions that they could never make if it weren't for this blog. I kinda' enjoy that.

ross sherburn said...

thanks ernie!its nice of you to ed-a-cate us hillbillys!!!

Robin Shelley said...

I was actually beginning to wonder the same thing, Ross. Ernie has my permission to give you my private e-mail address if you want it. Be sure to put your name in the subject box, though, so I don't delete it!

ross sherburn said...

robin,works for me!make it happen!

Robin Shelley said...

Ernie has your e-mail right, Ross?
I'll send him mind to send to you.

ross sherburn said...

robin,i think he has it??if not,let me know!i'll do something else!

Robin Shelley said...

Well, actually I sent Ernie my e-mail address to send to you, Ross... NOT my "mind" as I previously stated... but, if by chance you do receive my mind, would you send it back to me, please? I still use it once in awhile. (-:

ross sherburn said...

ya!thought you hit the wrong button!i type slowly with one finger,very few mistakes doing it this way!LOL

Robin Shelley said...

Ernie says he will send my e-mail address to you as soon as he finds your e-mail address... he says his archives are deep! Since I sincerely & deeply appreciate him going to all this trouble for me/us so very, very much I didn't think it would be very nice of me to tell him to look under "S"... 0;

Ernie Branscomb said...

I got the e-dresses exchanged, now I get left out!

Shucks!

ross sherburn said...

thanks ernie,you won't be left out!

Robin Shelley said...

Thanks, Ernie... &, no, you won't be left out. We'll blame you for anything that goes wrong - just like home! Ha! Ha! It means we love you!