White-nosed coatis are small mammals native to North, Central and South America, from Arizona to Argentina. They have strong claws and long, highly mobile snouts well adapted for foraging in crevices and holes for food. Their thick, semi-prehensile tails are used for balance.

Physical Description

White-nosed coatis are reddish brown to black with lighter underparts. The coati's face has black and gray markings with a white spot above and below each eye, on each cheek and around the end of the muzzle. The tail is banded with black rings. The coati's long, highly mobile snout is well adapted to investigating crevices and holes, and they have strong claws for digging.  


The length of the white-nosed coati's head and body is about 26 inches (66 centimeters), and their tails are almost as long as their bodies. The coati's semi-prehensile tail is used for balance and is often held erect above the body. White-nosed coatis weigh approximately 6.5 to 13 pounds (3 to 6 kilograms).

Native Habitat

White-nosed coatis are found in North, Central and South America, ranging from Arizona to Argentina. This species can be found in a variety of habitats, including dry, open forests and tropical woodlands.


In the wild, coatis live up to seven years. In human care, their average lifespan is 14 years, although they have been known to live into their late teens.

Food/Eating Habits

Coatis eat fruit, invertebrates, small rodents and lizards. They forage for food on the ground and occasionally in trees.

Social Structure

Male coatis younger than two years of age and females, both related and unrelated, will group together in bands of four to 20 individuals. Adult, male coatis are solitary animals, except during breeding season. Coatis have been called "coatimundi" or "coati-mondi" meaning "lone coati" in Guarani, a native language of Brazil. The name came about as a result of biologists describing solitary male coatis that they believed at the time to be a separate species.

Reproduction and Development

The breeding season occurs when fruit is most available and there is less competition for food. The coati's gestation period is 10 to 11 weeks, and litters consist of two to seven young. The young are weaned at four months and reach adult size at 15 months.

Females live in groups, called bands, along with their young, including males up to two years old. Adult males are solitary, except during the breeding season.

Conservation Efforts

White-nosed coatis are considered a species of least concern on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. They are protected under CITES Appendix III by Honduras, and are offered protection as an endangered species in New Mexico.

The primary threats to coatis are habitat loss and hunting. Coatis are hunted for their meat and their pelts and are sometimes captured in traps intended for other species or accidentally killed by hunters seeking other animals. Coatis are also occasionally kept as pets. Distemper and rabies affect coati populations, and natural predators include cats, boas and large birds.

This species suffered significant population declines in the 1960s but has since recovered. White-nosed coatis have extended their range into the United States since the beginning of the twentieth century.

Help this Species

  • Be a smart consumer. Choose products made with sustainable ingredients, such as Smithsonian certified Bird Friendly coffees, which support farmers striving to limit their impact on wildlife and habitat.
  • Choose your pets wisely, and do your research before bringing an animal home. Exotic animals don’t always make great pets. Many require special care and live for a long time. Tropical reptiles and small mammals are often traded internationally and may be victims of the illegal pet trade. Never release animals that have been kept as pets into the wild.
  • Share the story of this animal with others. Simply raising awareness about this species can contribute to its overall protection.
  • Are you a student? Did you love what you learned about this animal? Make it the topic of your next school project, or start a conservation club at your school. You'll learn even more and share the importance of saving species with classmates and teachers, too.

Meet the Animals

The Smithsonian's National Zoo exhibits two female white-nosed coatis born in May 2016. They are sisters. 

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