Coati, or Coatimundi, a small mammal related to the raccoon. There are two species. One is native to Central and South America and parts of Arizona and Texas, and the other inhabits Brazil.
The coati is distinguished by its facial mask, long, pointed muzzle, and ringed tail, which is carried erect. It weighs 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 6.8 kg) and is 3 to 4 feet (90 to 120 cm) long, including a 20- to 25-inch (50- to 64-cm) tail. The coati is reddish-brown above and yellowish-brown below. It has a keen sense of smell and uses its probelike nose to dig up insects and snakes. It also feeds on mice, ground squirrels, and bird eggs. It has long, curved claws used for climbing and fighting. Coatis live in tribes of 5 to 20 animals of several families, headed by a mature female. They live in small caves in cliff walls or in nests of vines and leaves on tree branches. Females give birth to two to six young about 77 days after mating. Coatis growl, hiss, and bark when alarmed. They can be domesticated and make good house pets.
The coati is a raccoon relative with a very long nose. Its nose is good for searching through leaves, crevices, and holes to find its favorite foods. These include insects, fruits, snails, mice, lizards, and bird eggs.
A coati also has a long tail—just as other raccoon relatives do. But a coati’s tail is longer than its head and its body together! A coati spends much of its time with its tail held straight up high. This helps a coati keep its balance, especially when climbing and when leaping from branch to branch.
Female coatis like company. They often live in large groups, or bands, that have 20 to 40 members.
Group living has many advantages. Mother coatis help care for each other’s young. The group also looks for food together. With so many coatis, they can spread out across a large area and find more food. And with so many pairs of eyes, they can also spot enemies before they attack. Adult female coatis often join together to frighten off their enemies.
A male coati stays with a band only during mating season. Afterward, the females chase him away. This is to keep a male from eating a baby coati if he gets really hungry. Young male coatis can stay in the band until they are about 2 years old. Then the rest of the group chases the young males off, too.
Grooming is important to coatis. The females often groom each other and their young. They use their teeth, feet, and hands to comb each other’s fur.
The coati of Central and South America is Nasua narica; the coati of Brazil is N. rufa. Coatis belong to the raccoon family, Procyonidae.