The coati, mammal close cousin of the raccoon

With his tail ringed, his thick fur, his face speckled with white and his round ears … the coati takes on a strangely familiar air. Heading towardsLatin America to get to know a cousin of the raccoon.

Coati: family portrait

The coati is a mammal belonging to the family of procyonidae to which raccoons also belong. Borrowed from the Indian word meaning “long nose”, Coati is a vernacular term designating four species divided into two genres.


  • Common coati (Nasua nasua) or red coati or ring-tailed coati;
  • White-nosed coati (Nasua narica);
  • Coati from Cozumel Island (Nasua nelsoni);


  • Coati of the mountains (Nasuella olivacea).

The small flexible trunk of the coati

The coati has a black, long and slender muzzle that ends in a small proboscis mobile. The red face of the carnivore displays touches of White on the chin, cheeks, eye area and hem of her round ears. Like the raccoon, its long, bushy tail (40 to 60 cm) is adorned withrings dark. Its thick fur is tinted a dark red on the back, but can also be brown, gray or black depending on the species or the moulting period. Its black legs extend into powerful claws non-retractable. The common coati is between 30 and 65 cm long and weighs between 2 and 8 kg. The smaller mountain coati weighs between 1.5 and 2.5 kg.

The particular signs of the coati

Like its cousin the raccoon (or the bear), the coati moves on the plant feet (plantigrade animal). And like other procyonidae, the mammal has a double joint allowing her flexible ankles toreverse the position of the legs and descend from a trunk upside down. Very agile in trees, the carnivore leaps from branch to branch: its long prehensile tail serving as a pendulum and its sharp and curved claws ensuring a solid grip in the bark. Another special sign: the basal metabolism (the energy consumed at rest) gives the coati the ability to thermoregulation allowing it to withstand temperatures between 0 ° and more than 30 °.

Its limits: cold and drought

The range of the coati extends from South West American (southern Arizona, New Mexico and Texas), to northern Argentina. The coati lives near waterways, in the forests and meadows of South America (red coati), in the Andes up to 2,500 meters above sea level, in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru (mountain coati), Central America and Mexico (white nosed coati). Whether tropical or temperate, all environments with a minimum of vegetation are suitable for it. Between savannas and steppes, the coati sets the limits of its habitat with the cold and drought.

The coati, a tenacious hunter

Animal omnivorous, the coati feeds mainly on fruits (preferably soft, like figs), mushrooms and a host of small prey: lizards, rodents, frogs, small birds (and their eggs), worms, crabs, ants, termites, spiders and others invertebrates. Moving between 1 and 7 km per day to eat, the coati is guided by his voucher smell to sniff out its prey deep in the earth. He pushes his muzzle flexible in the holes, scrapes the ground with its long claws, turns over stones and dead branches to find a beetle or a scorpion. His hunts almost always end with a success because the coati is ready to devote the necessary time and energy to it.

Male coatis excluded from the group

Coatis are not very shy animals and relatively social between them, frequently showing friendly exchanges (delousing mutuals, fighting games …) Groups made up of 20 to 80 individuals (exclusively females and their young), are led by the female dominant. The males live alone all year round and are accepted into the clan only during the mating season which lasts two weeks in February. Only one suitor has the privilege to mate with all the breeding females of the tribe.

The clan breaks up then reforms

When she feels ready to give birth, the female leaves the group to stay only some time. After a period of gestation about 75 days old, she joins the nest she has built and lined with a soft layer of leafy twigs to give life to a litter of 2 to 5 young. Newborns measure 25 to 35 cm (including tail) and weigh an average of 150 g. Their eyes do not open for 10 days and the device auditory starts working at 14 days. Isolated of the clan, the mother raises her offspring alone for 6 weeks and does not accept any intrusion. Then, the tribes broken up during the births end up reforming with the young and the females.

The common coati is not threatened

The main predators of coatis include other carnivorous such as the jaguar, jaguarondi (a species of small American feline), fox, dog or ocelot. The big ones raptors (ornate eagle, fierce harpy) are also among his enemies. As for the capuchin monkeys, they mainly attack young coatis. Appreciated for its meat, the mammal is also the prey of theman and suffers at the same time from the decline of its habitat (deforestation). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the common coati and the white-nosed coati as concern minor, while the mountain coati is listed as Near Threatened. The coati can live 15 years in captivity and 7 years in the wild.

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