White-nosed coati

Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Procyonidae
Genus and Species: Nasua narica
  • coati on a branch
  • A white-nosed coati climbing on a tree branch
  • A white-nosed coati climbing on a tree branch
  • A white-nosed coati standing on all fours in the dirt
  • A white-nosed coati standing on all fours on the ground smelling the grass and dirt
  • A white-nosed coati standing on all fours on the ground
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White-nosed coati

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 and often held erect above the body. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Conservation Actions

  • Help protect coati habitat by remembering to purchase recycled or sustainably sourced wood and paper products.
  • Many wild animals do not make good pets. As a general rule, do your research before bringing any animal home as a pet. Know where your pets come from, and carefully consider whether an animal should be kept as a pet.
  • Share the story of white-nosed coatis with others. Simply increasing awareness and educating others contributes to the protection of these animals. 
The Smithsonian's National Zoo exhibits two female white-nosed coatis born in May 2016. They are sisters. 
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