‘Seldom seen’ critter gets stuck in home chimney, Utah officials say. See it go free

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

A “seldom seen” critter sneaked inside a home using the chimney in southern Utah.

The homeowner called the state’s Division of Wildlife Resources to get the wild animal out. Conservation officers set traps in the room with the fireplace, and “within the day, the animal was trapped and released,” officials said Feb. 1 on Facebook.

The release video shows the furry creature — a ringtail — inquisitively taking a peek at the conservation officer who released it before scampering off through the snow.

“Ringtails are fairly widespread throughout Utah but seldom seen,” the department said on Facebook, adding that they’re mostly nocturnal and feed on insects, small mammals and fruit.

The animal, which looks like a smaller, slimmer version of a raccoon, is so secretive several people wrote that they didn’t even know there were ringtails in Utah.

Ringtails are “seemingly rare” throughout the state, according to the division’s field guide. They generally call the southwestern and south-central U.S. home, and they’re also in Mexico.

The ringtails’ preferred habitats are rocky desert and woodland areas, the field guide says. They make dens near water among rocks and in small caves and hollow logs.

One commenter joked the critter “would make a delightful hat,” and the animals are indeed harvested for their fur, the field guide says.

Others simply marveled at how they grew up in Utah never knowing the animals existed.

”That is truly an amazing animal,” they wrote. “I have grown up in Utah my whole life and never heard of this animal.”

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