- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Procyonidae
- Genus: Nasua
- Species: narica
Scientific Name: Nasua narica
IUCN Red List Status and Population
Population Trend: Decreasing (Cuaron 2016)
Locally threatened due to habitat destruction and loss, as well as hunting. The rate if declined is not sufficient to qualify for near threatened. Coatis have a wide range and are present in many protected areas (Cuaron 2016).
Population: The number of the species is unknown, with population estimates ranging from rare to common. Rare in the United States, Common-Scarce in Central America, and reduced populations in Mexico (Cuaron 2016).
Weight: 6.5-13 pounds (“White-nosed Coati”; Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute).
Length: body 26 inches (with a tail about the same length).
Lifespan: 7 years in the wild, 14+ years in captivity.
Diet: Omnivorous and opportunistic; fruits and invertebrates, small mammals, rodents, eggs, beetle larvae, ants, and termites (Braddy 2003).
Grouping: Coatis live together in social groups with up to 30 at a time, although 12 is the average group number. Females are extremely vocal with each other and spend much of their time grooming one another. They do not live cooperatively or share food, however, the group helps to protect the females from male intruders and threats. Males are usually solitary as adults (Cuaron 2016). They are opportunistic omnivores and typically feed on fruit and insects above the forest canopy. Their favorite fruit is the prickly pear, and they will return to the same tree until there is no food left. They are excellent climbers as well as an arboreal species, or animals who dwell in trees. Coatis spend a lot of time searching for food in the trees as well as on the ground. Females stay together in family groups, called bands. As a diurnal species, coatis are most active during the day. This highly adaptable species tend to fluctuate in size depending on habitat and prey abundance and are also susceptible to disease (Cuaron 2016).
Appearance: They have long noses with a mobile snout to forage for food, and find a variety of insects in crevices and holes. With small sharp claws they can dig up any food they find underground. They have a semi-prehensile tail (or a tail that can grasp onto things) that helps them balance while climbing trees, which they typically hold up high off the ground. Their coat ranges from reddish brown to black with lighter underbellies. They have black and grey markings on their face, white spots above and below their eyes, as well as black rings around their tail. Males are often larger than females. Often confused with an anteater due to the long snout, coatis are actually a member of the raccoon family.
Natural Behaviors: According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, male coatis under 2 years of age as well as females, related and unrelated, will group together up to 20 at a time. As adults, males are solitary, except during breeding season (“White-nosed Coati” 2017).
Reproduction: Breeding occurs when food sources are most abundant and there is less competition between coatis. Their gestation period is 10-11 weeks, and litters can range from 2-7 young (Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute). Young are altricial (meaning they are undeveloped at birth and require care and feeding), depending on their parents at birth. A mother will leave the band after giving birth, nesting in a crevice of a tree ( “White-nosed Coati- Nasua narica”; NH PBS Nature Works 2017). Once the pups are 5-6 weeks old, the mother and pups will rejoin the band, until she is ready to give birth to her next litter (“White-nosed Coati-Nasua narica” 2017). At 4 months old they begin to eat solid food on their own (Braddy 2003).
At 15 months they will reach maturity. When males turn 2 years old they will become solitary, and only join females during breeding season. They are polygynous, meaning males will mate with multiple females throughout the year.
There is a high mortality rate for juvenile coatis first leaving the nest. They are preyed upon by male coatis, big cats, monkeys, snakes, and are also prone to accidents and diseases (Marceau 2001).
Habitat Types: Tropical woodlands and open forests, mountain ranges, hardwood riparian areas, (Cuaron 2016).
Current Home Range: Arizona to Southern New Mexico, through Mexico, Central America, South America (West Andes) and Columbia (Cuaron 2016).
White-nosed coatis are classified as an endangered species in New Mexico, with total legal protection. The abundance of coatis within the United States reside in Arizona, where there is a legal year round hunt for them (Cuaron 2016). They are listed in Appendix III of CITES by Honduras and does not have any other official protection in other places (Cuaron 2016).
The largest threat to the species is large-scale habitat loss as well as overhunting. Coatis are used for their skins as well as a food resource, and can easily be caught in traps intended for other species (Cuaron 2016). They are thought to be a nuisance by damaging crops as well as taking poultry from farmers (Braddy 2003).
Coatis are also susceptible to canine distemper as well as rabies. Predator control campaigns, such as Coyote poisoning, has also shown a negative impact on coati populations (Cuaron 2016).
U.S. populations are suspected to lose genetic diversity due to habitat fragmentation and the loss of contact with Southern populations, which can lead to extirpation (Curaron 2016).
The exotic pet trade is threatening wild populations, as they are captured as young, and can have negative effects on social structures of the group of coatis. Coatis are also kept as pets, although they do not make good pets at all.
Coatis are vital in helping maintain the population of insects in their region. They are also hunted by local populations as a dependable food source.
- Braddy, S. 2003. “Nasua nasua”. Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Nasua_nasua/
- Cuarón, A.D., Helgen, K., Reid, F., Pino, J. & González-Maya, J.F. 2016. Nasua narica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41683A45216060. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T41683A45216060.en.
- Marceau, J. 2001. “Nasua narica”. Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Nasua_narica/
- “White-nosed Coati”. Small Mammal House: Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/white-nosed-coati
- “White-nosed Coati- Nasua narica”. New Hampshire PBS Nature Works 2017. http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/coati.htm