White nosed coatis are readily identified by their long, slender, non-grasping tail which is equal in length to the head and body, and by their long and flexible snout that protrudes beyond the end of the lower jaw. It has small ears, long and sharp claws. Coatis have a black mask and white around the eyes, nose and on the inside of its ears. Its fur is brown with a mix of red and yellow on top and lighter brown on its undersides. The lower legs and tops of its feet are blackish-brown. Males and females look alike but males are much larger. Perhaps the most outstanding physical feature of a coati is its long, pointed snout. The area around the nose is rich in sensory receptors which result in an extremely heightened sense of smell. Numerous muscles allow great flexibility of the tip of the snout, which is used to poke into crevices and to seek out prey. Coatis curl their snouts in an amazing way above the water surface when drinking.
Despite belonging to the carnivore family, coatis are omnivores, preferring small vertebrates, fruits, carrion, insects and eggs. One of its favorite fruits is prickly pear; in fact, it will return to the same tree again and again until the tree is stripped bare. They can climb trees easily, where the tail is used for balance, but they are most often on the ground foraging. They readily adapt to human presence; like raccoons, they will raid campsites and trash receptacles. Coatis use their long snout and sharp claws to forage for food. It often sniffs along the ground, pushing leaf litter out of their way as it roots for prey like beetles, grubs, ants, termites, spiders and scorpions.
Habitat / Distribution
White nosed coatis inhabit mountain forests and wooded areas of the Americas. They are found at any altitude from sea level to 3,500 m or 11,500 ft and from as far north as southeastern Arizona, Texas and New Mexico to as far south as Ecuador. White nosed coatis have also been found in Florida where they are an introduced species. It is unknown when introduction occurred. There are several documented cases of coatis escaping captivity, and since the 1970s there have been a number of sightings.
Reproduction / Social System
While the raccoon and ringtail are nocturnal, coatis are active by day, retiring during the night to a specific tree and descending at dawn to begin their daily search for food. However, their habits are adjustable, and in areas where they are hunted by humans for food, or where they raid human settlements for their own food, they might become more nocturnal. Adult males are solitary, but females and sexually immature males form social groups. They use many vocal signals to communicate with one another, and also spend time grooming themselves and each other with their teeth and claws. During foraging times, the young cubs are left with a pair of babysitters, similar to Meerkats. The young males and even some females tend to play fight though many of the coatis will have short fights over food. Young coatis are very playful and spend a lot of time chasing and wrestling with each other. The white nosed coati mates between January and March. Males will join female family bands. Once the male has mated, the females in the band will force him to leave the group. Females will also leave the group when they are ready to give birth. After about 77 days, she will give birth to a litter of 2 to 6 young. She will usually have her litter in a nest made in the crevice of a tree. The young will be able to leave the tree when they are four weeks old and will return to the family group when they are five to six weeks old. Pups are weaned when they are about four months old, but they will stay with their mother until she leaves the band to give birth to her next litter.
Range & Population
The coati can be found in the southeast corner of Arizona, in the southwest corner of New Mexico and in southwest Texas. It is also found in Mexico, Central America and South America. In Texas, they are only rarely known from Brownsville to the Big Bend region of the Trans-Pecos. They have been reported from Aransas, Brewster, Cameron, Hidalgo, Kerr, Maverick, Starr, Uvalde and Webb counties.
Though the numbers are decreasing, the conservation status of the white nosed coati is Least Concern.
Coatis average about 4 to 6 kg or 9 to 13 pounds. However, males are much larger than females. On average, the total length is about 110 cm or 43 in, about half of that being the tail length.