ORDER: Carnivora

FAMILY: Procyonidae

GENUS: Nasua

SPECIES: nasua & narica

Adult coatis measure 13 to 27 inches from head to the base of the tail, which can be as long as their bodies. Coatis are about 12 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 4.4 and 18 lb., about the size of a large house cat. Males can become almost twice as large as females and have large, sharp canine teeth. The above measurements are for the White-nosed (nasua narica) and Brown-Nosed coatis. The Brown-Nosed (Nasua nasua) is also commonly called a ring-tailed coati, or South-American Coati. The Cozumel Island (Nasua narica nelsoni) and the Mountain Coatis (Nasuella olivacea) are in the lower range of these measurements.

All coatis share a slender head with an elongated, flexible, slightly upward-turned nose, small ears, dark feet, and a long, non-prehensile tail used for balance and signaling. Coatis have bear- and raccoon-like paws, and coatis, raccoons, and bears walk plantigrade (on the soles of the feet, as do humans). Coatis also have nonretractable claws.

There are four different species of coati, two of which, the Ring-tailed Coati and the Mountain Coati, are found in South America, and the remaining two coati species, the White-nosed Coati and the Cozumel Island Coati, are both found in Mexico.

Omnivorous. Coatis are opportunistic omnivorous feeders, eating fruit, insects, frogs, small rodents, eggs, and lizards primarily off the ground.

Coatis are diurnal, meaning they are asleep during the night. With climbing abilities equal to that of a squirrel they will often nest curled up in trees to sleep. At dawn they will come down from their nests to forage alongside their family. Adult males are mostly solitary, while adult females and young band together. Vocalizing and grooming are social activities but hunting and sharing food are not. If danger is present the family will join together to defend each other.

They are expert climbers due to very flexible bones, their ankles can rotate beyond 180°; they are therefore able to descend trees head first. Coatis often hold their tail erect, and it is used as such to keep troops of coatis together in tall vegetation. The coati snout is long and somewhat pig-like. It is extremely flexible and can be rotated up to 60° in any direction. The nose is used to push objects and rub parts of their body.

The Mexican population is in great decline and may even be extirpated (regional extinction) in certain areas. This is causing the Arizona population to be in genetic isolation from Southern populations which could lead to U.S. coati extinction.

The Coatis can be found in the Tropical Rainforest. One male and one female brown-nosed coati (Nasua nasua) from the Cincinnati Zoo. They were both born in May 2004 - Same father, different mothers. Three males and one female white-nosed coati (Nasua narica) came from Akron Zoo. Born in May 2004 - No parent information.

Most Coatis are threatened, due to habitat loss and hunting. The White-Nosed is protected and listed as endangered in New Mexico. Listed as a species of Least Concern by IUCN.


  6. Oakland Zoo, Medical Records.