Update of post from October 5, 2013.



The coati is a weird, medium-sized mammal living in Central and South America. There are actually two different species of coati: the South American coati, and the White-nosed coati. There are several ways to tell the two species apart.

First of all, and most obvious from their names, is that the white-nosed coati has a dirty white band right behind its nose. You can see this in the picture below. This coati is also much darker than the South American one has, and the stripes on its tail are much less obvious.

The differences that the South American coati has makes it look a lot like a skinny raccoon, except for its long snout, that is. In fact, raccoons are in the same family as coatis! As with many jungle mammals, coatis have large, curved claws on their front feet and smaller ones on the back.

The word coati comes from two native American Indian words meaning “belt” and “nose”, referring to this animal’s habit to tuck its nose into its belly while sleeping. Sometimes these animals are also called coatimundi. In Belize, they have a local name, “quash.”



Coatis are not only related to raccoons, but they are also very close to the same size. Another animal to compare their size to would be a medium-sized dog. Not including their tail, these animals are between 16 and 26 inches (41-67 cm) long. The tail, which can sometimes be longer than the coati’s body, is between 13 and 27 inches long.

There is no major difference between the sizes of the two species of coatis. There is, however, a large difference between males and females, as males are much larger. As adults, these mammals can weigh anywhere from 6.5 pounds (3 kg) to 13 pounds (6 kg).

Diet and hunting

Coatis are omnivores, eating a variety of animals as well as many plants.  Their main foods are different fruits and invertebrates. They are not picky about what invertebrates they eat. They have been seen consuming spiders, insects, millipedes, centipedes, crabs, and even scorpions!

The coati’s long nose is useful for hunting as it lets them sniff in cracks and holes to smell out prey. These animals sometimes travel a ways to find their food. They often walk up to 1.2 miles (2 km) each day to hunt!

There are several animals that coatis prey on. These include eggs, lizards, carrion, and even rodents and other small mammals. They have occasionally been seen catching and eating chickens, but this is very rare.

Habitat and range

One other difference between the two species of coatis besides their coloring is their range. The white-nose coati lives in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and a tiny bit of northern South America. The South American coati lives only in South America, thus its name. These species’ ranges do not overlap at all. In the range map below, the green shows the range of the white-nose coati, and the bluish-gray is the range of the South American coati.

Both species live in forested habitats. These can be just regular forests or rain forests. There are a few small mountain ranges in the coati’s range, and these animals live at elevations of up to 8,200 feet (2,400 m).


Status and threats

Both the White-nosed coati and the South American coati are classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Redlist. The main threat to these animals, both species, is humans. People hunt them for food, and maybe also because they are a threat to crops and farm animals.

Earlier I said that these animals are about the same size as a medium-sized dog, and maybe some people think they look like dogs also. Or maybe they just make better pets than dogs. Whatever the reason, coatis are sometimes captured so they can be used as pets.

Deforestation and the building of dams make the availability of the coati’s habitat decline. Due to these many reasons, this animal’s population is decreasing as well, but they are still common enough to be classified as Least Concern.

There are also several natural predators of the coati, these include large raptors, boas, and various species of large cats such as jaguars, mountain lions, and ocelots.

Reproduction and young

Coatis are usually non-seasonal breeders, meaning they do not have a specific time of year when they breed. Many places have recorded them breeding between April and June. The South American coatis normally breed later in the year, as that time corresponds to spring in the southern hemisphere.

Female coatis hang out in groups, while the males are solitary. The ranges of the males and the female group overlap. When mating season comes, the females will allow the most dominant male in their range to temporarily join their group. After the females have mated, the male is driven out of the group by the females.

It takes about eleven weeks after mating before the coati babies are ready to be born. During the first seven to eight weeks, the mother stays with her group, but she then leaves to build her own nest in a tree. Once the eleven weeks has passed, between two and seven young are born. The newborn coatis usually weigh less than 6 ounces (170 g). This is less than the weight of a softball!

During the first few weeks, they are completely dependent on their mother. They don’t even open their eyes until they are 11 days old! After four months, they are weaned, and it is not until they are five months that they leave their nest for the first time. It is then that the mother and young rejoin their group.

Soon afterward, the male that mated with that group will return so he can meet his young for the first time. Fifteen months into their life, the young have reached their adult body size, and they are ready to mate between the ages of two and three years. In the wild, these animals typically live fourteen years.

Don’t forget to scroll down and comment your guess about what the next animal is…

If you can find it!



Photo credits:

  • Coati – Public domain
  • White-nosed coati – Joseph C Boone
  • Coati range – Chermundy
  • Mystery animal – David Breneman
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