White-nosed Coati “Coatimundi”
© 2004 Brenda King
Coatimundis (Nasua narica) are dark brown in color on their backs and light creamy brown color below. They have a long pointed snout with a white muzzle, small ears and white or cream-colored rings around their eyes Their tail is long and banded with fainter shades of brown.
The most remarkable physical adaptation of a coati is its long, pointed nose. The area around the nose is rich in sensory receptors giving the coati a wonderful sense of smell. Their nose has many, many muscles making it very flexible allowing it to poke into all types of places seeking out prey.
Coatis prefer a habitat of mountain canyons in the summer and riparian canyons during the winter.
They can be found in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts of Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and in southwest Texas. They are also found in Mexico, Central America, and South America.
Coatis are listed as a species of least concern even though they are locally threatened as a result of ongoing habitat loss and hunting. Their decline in numbers is not at a rate to qualify for a threat category. They have a wide distribution range and are present in many protected areas across their range.
Coatis are omnivores which means they eat just about anything. They use their long snout to locate food and their sharp claws to dig it up. Their food choices include beetles, spiders, snakes, rodents, grubs, ants, termites, scorpions, lizards, carrion, nuts, and fruits.
Natural predators to the coati include mountain lions, jaguars, hawks, eagles, foxes, and boa constrictors. Humans occasionally hunt coatis for food, and there is an increasing demand for coatis as domesticated pets.
Coatis are normally diurnal. During the heat of the day they may find a shady spot to rest. During the night they will often retire to a specific tree to sleep and then descend at dawn and begin to look for food. When ready to give birth, females will leave the group and make a nest in the crook of a tree.
In the wild coatis usually live to be 6-7 years old. In captivity they may live into their late teens.
The body of a coati is 1.5-2.5 feet long with an additional 2-foot long tail. They can weigh between 12 to 23 pounds. Males are generally larger than females.
The word "coatimundi" is usually attributed to males who live alone-"mundi" means "solitary". The word “coati” usually refers to a group of females.
Coatis are very social, living in bands of 4-25 individuals, which are usually related females and their young.