|The white-nosed coati is a diurnal omnivore native to North and South America that primarily eats insects. It uses its bent claws and long, flexible snout to forage the forest floor and treetops in groups of 4-30, called bands or troops. Although considered “Least Concern,” the species is endangered in New Mexico.|
The white-nosed coati is a grayish brown with silver grizzling on the sides of the arms. The face has a white band near the end of the nose. There is a white spot above and below each eye as well as on each cheek. Touches of white are also present on the underside of the throat and belly.
On average, the nose-to-tail body length of the species is about 80-130 centimeters (2.6-4.3 feet) with about half of that being the tail length. The average length is about 110 centimeters, or 3.6 feet.
The tapering tail of extreme length is covered with black rings and held erect while walking.
The white-nosed coati weighs about 4-6 kilograms, or 8.8-13.2 pounds. However, males are much larger than females. Small females can weigh as little as 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds), while large males can weigh as much as 12.2 kilograms (27 pounds).
The white-nosed coati’s snout is long and pointed with a flexible end.
The white-nosed coati is plantigrade with shorter forelegs than hindlegs. The feet are black and have naked soles. The forefeet also have bent claws.
Individual white-nosed coatis may live up to 14 years of age.
The white-nosed coati is also known as the coatimundi (/koʊˌɑːtɪˈmʌndi/).
Coatis are also referred to in some texts as coatimundis. The name coati or coatimundi is Tupian Indian in origin. The prefix coati means belt, and Tim means nose referring to the way the coatis tuck their noses under their bellies to sleep.
The white-nosed coati’s scientific name is Nasua narica. The name Nasua is Latin for nose, possibly for the same reason.
Local Spanish names for the species include pizote, antoon, and tejón, depending upon the region. Tejón translates to badger and is mainly used in Mexico.
The white-nosed coati is a species of coati and a member of the family Procyonidae, containing raccoons and their relatives.
The white-nosed coati’s coat color and muzzle markings are the only physical characteristics dissimilar from its relatives the South American coati (Nasua nasua) and the Western mountain coati (Nasuella olivacea).
The white-nosed coati is native to North and South America and ranges from southeastern Arizona to western Colombia and Ecuador.
The coati ranges from southeastern Arizona and parts of southern New Mexico in the United States through Mexico (except the Baja peninsula and central Sierra Madres) and Central America to Panama and marginally into South America in areas west of the Andes, especially in Colombia.
The white-nosed coati’s current population trend is decreasing, but the population is not severely fragmented.
The coati was very plentiful in the 1950s, but suffered major population declines in the early 1960s for unknown reasons. Populations have since been recovering and this population increase has been accompanied by a northward extension of their range.
The numbers of the white-nosed coati are unknown and population estimates from from rare to common.
It is rare in the United States and can be anything from common to scarce in Central America where its status is less well known, but indications are that its numbers have been greatly reduced. The Mexican population has probably been severely reduced and it may even be extirpated in certain areas. In Costa Rica the species is considered to be fairly common.
Population density is greater in the tropics than in south-western United States. Both regions show year-to-year fluctuations in population sizes as a result of disease or food availability.
The white-nosed coati is highly adaptable but is basically a tropical woodland and open forest animal. It is rarely seen in open grassland or desert.
White-nosed coatis will occupy many different types of habitat and can be found in forests and grasslands. They inhabit subtropical/tropical dry high-altitude forests and grasslands, as well as moist lowland forests.
The white-nosed coati’s distribution in Arizona and New Mexico corresponds to that of Encinal and Mexican pine-oak woodland. In the south-western U.S.A., it is found in oak woodlands or
hardwood riparian canyons over 1,400-2,300 meters. It is also occasionally seen in chaparral conifers. Many sightings have occurred in small isolated mountain ranges such as the Sierra Madre in Mexico and the Chiricahuas and Huachucas in the United States.
Adult male white-nosed coatis are sometimes active at night, but coatis are primarily diurnal. The white-nosed coati is more active by day than by night, but in Costa Rica is mostly diurnal. Days are spent mostly on the ground foraging, while nights are spent in treetops, sheltered from most predation.
White-nosed coatis live in bands of 4-30 individuals including males up to two years of age and females who are not necessarily related. 12 individuals in a white-nosed coati band is more typical. These groups are beneficial for many reasons including protection of the young from predators. Grooming and nursing comes from both the mother of the young and other females equally. These relationships take time to develop, but once the bond is established between members, they are loyal to each other. Band home ranges are about 1 kilometer in diameter, and are overlapped on the edges by other groups. A single band’s range also includes the areas of several adult males. New bands arise from splitting of previous bands, which explains the lack of aggression between neighboring groups.
Adult male white-nosed coatis live solitary lives and establish ranges that they mark by spraying urine or dragging their abdomens on a surface and spreading anal secretions. Male ranges do not overlap, and they will fight when they meet another male.
White-nosed coatis defend themselves using their bent forefeet claws and sharp canines.
The white-nosed coati searches for food both on the ground and in the forest canopy, frequently climbing to obtain fruits. It is more typically seen on the ground, however, and is considered terrestrial.
White-nosed coatis are omnivores that primarily eat insects and typically eat fruit and invertebrates.
They will feast on invertebrates, such as beetles, spiders, scorpions, ants, termites, grubs, centipedes, and even land crabs. When plentiful, fruit is also eaten. Occasionally coatis may search for small vertebrates, such as mice, lizards, and frogs.
White-nosed coatis will travel up to 2,000 meters in a single day in a quest for food. They forage by keeping their muzzle down close to the forest floor and sniff around to find creatures.
When hunting, white-nosed coatis will force vertebrates to the ground with their paws and kill by a bite to the head.
In February or March, the most dominant male in a female white-nosed coati band’s range will be allowed to enter it ranks, first through grooming and other submissive behaviors. Once accepted into the group, the male will breed with each member of the band in a tree and is soon afterwards driven away from the group. This is because they are known to kill juveniles.
About 3 to 4 weeks before giving birth, the female will depart the band to build a nest, most often in a palm tree. The gestation period of the white-nosed coati is 77 days.
Between 2 and 7 white-nosed coati young are born, and remain in the nest for several weeks. They weigh only 100-180 grams at birth and are dependent on their mother, who only leaves the nest to find food.
Newborn white-nosed coatis will open their eyes at 11 days and be weaned after 4 months. After 5 months the mother and young descend from the nest and rejoin their group. A short time afterwards the male that mated with the band will appear for a short time, several days in a row in order to recognize their young.
Adult body sized is reached by 15 months. Sexual maturity is reached by three years if age in males and two years of age in females.
The white-nosed coati is predated by several predators including cats, boas, and large predatory birds.
The white-nosed coati is hunted throughout its range for skin and food, but its fur has no value. In the United States, it is occasionally caught in traps set for other species, killed by hunters ostensibly looking for other species, or falls victim to predator control campaigns. It apparently disappeared from the Burro Mountains in New Mexico at about the same time as a coyote (Canis latrans) poisoning campaign. In Arizona, where most of the white-nosed coatis in the United States live, they are subject to year-round hunting.
White-nosed coatis will only occasionally cause crop damage and rarely take small farm animals.
White-nosed coatis may also be kept as pets.
The white-nosed coati is listed as Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Although it is locally threatened as a result of ongoing habitat loss and hunting, it is not declining at a rate nearly sufficient to qualify even for Near Threatened. It has a wide distribution range and is present in many protected areas across its range.
The white-nosed coati is locally threatened as a result of ongoing large-scale habitat loss and legal hunting in some areas.
The white-nosed coati population in the United States is suspected to be losing genetic contact with populations further south, potentially leading to extirpation in the United States.
The white-nosed coati is susceptible to canine distemper and rabies.
The government of Honduras has listed its population of the species in Appendix III of CITES, placing restrictions on international trade in their animals.
The white-nosed coati is classified as an endangered species in New Mexico and is given total legal protection there.
Elsewhere in its range it does not appear to be afforded any official protection.