Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

White-nosed coati

(Nasua narica)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in montane and tropical forests, grasslands, and deserts throughout Central America, ranging from southeastern Arizona to western Colombia and Ecuador.

Size: 32-50 inches long (including 16-25 inch tail); up to 12 inches tall at the shoulder; 8-20 pounds. Males are larger than females.

Wild Diet: Primarily beetles, spiders, scorpions, ants, termites, grubs, centipedes, and roots; also fruits, birds, reptiles, frogs, rodents, and carrion

Predators: Boas, raptors, tayras, and large cats

Lifespan: Up to 7 years in the wild; 14 years in zoos

Reproduction: Mating season depends on food availability, often coinciding with the ripening of fruit. All the females in a band (group) become receptive at the same time and accept a single male into the group after he grooms band members and behaves submissively. A few weeks before giving birth, pregnant females separate from the band to build nests in trees. Up to 7 cubs are born after a gestation period of 11-12 weeks. Band members with strong bonds to the mother may enter the nest to assist in nursing infants. Cubs begin descending from the nest to forage after 5-6 weeks and then rejoin the band with their mother. At this point, the father may be allowed to return for visits. Young are playful and social, often chasing and wrestling each other. They are weaned after about 4 months but do not reach adult size until about 15 months of age.

Behavior: White-nosed coatis are primarily diurnal and largely arboreal, foraging during the day and sleeping in trees at night. They travel over a mile a day in search of food. Females live together in bands but males are solitary and establish separate ranges. Bands usually tolerate each other when they meet, sometimes even foraging together and grooming each other. Grooming strengthens social bonds and keeps fur clean.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Least Concern

White-nosed coatis are widely distributed across many protected areas and they are not currently considered threatened. However, this species is declining in Central America and may already be extinct in parts of Mexico. White-nosed coatis in the United States are rare and the only substantial populations exist in Arizona and parts of New Mexico, where they are subject to year-round hunting. These small populations may soon become isolated due to habitat fragmentation in northern Mexico.

Did you know?

  • Coatis are members of the raccoon family.
  • White-nosed coatis vocalize to communicate aggression, appeasement, alarm, and location. Low grunts are contact calls, while sharp barks and tail twitching indicate alarm. They also produce squeaks, snorts, screams, whines, and chatters.