Bassariscus is a genus in the family Procyonidae. There are two species in the genus: the ring-tailed cat or ringtail (B. astutus) and the cacomistle (B. sumichrasti). Genetic studies have indicated that the closest relatives of Bassariscus are raccoons, from which they diverged about 10 million years ago. Prior to this, some taxonomies placed the genus as a separate family, Bassaricidae, due to the more digitigrade stance of their legs, and it was thought that they were represented in fossils from the early Miocene. The name is a Greek word for fox ("bassaris") with a Latinized diminutive ending ("-iscus"). The genus was first described by Elliott Coues in 1887. He proposed the word "bassarisk" as the English term for animals in this genus. Its habitat includes semi-arid areas in the southwestern United States, the whole of Mexico, as well as moist tropical forests in Central America.
|Image||Scientific name||Common Name||Distribution|
|Bassariscus astutus||Ring-tailed cat||Southern United States from southern Oregon and California throughout the southwestern states to Texas. In Mexico it ranges from the northern desert state of Baja California to Oaxaca. Its distribution overlaps that of B. sumichrasti in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz.|
|Bassariscus sumichrasti||Cacomistle||Central America, from south central Mexico to Panama|
|† Bassariscus sonoitensis||Extinct species, possibly the link between Bassariscus astutus and Bassariscus sumichrasti|
|† Bassariscus casei||Extinct ancestral species|