The coati is a muscular, short-legged animal, with a long, banded tail and a pointed, mobile snout. It lives in groups of up to 40 individuals, which hunt together day and night, resting in the heat of the day. With its mobile snout, the coati probes holes and cracks in the ground, rocks or trees, searching for the insects, spiders and other small ground-dwelling invertebrates that are its staple diet. Fruit and larger animals, such as lizards, are also eaten.

After mating, the group splits up and females go off alone to give birth. A litter of 2 to 7 young is born after a gestation of about 77 days, usually in a cave or a nest in a tree. Once the young are about 2 months old, the females and their offspring regroup with yearlings of both sexes. Males over 2 years old only accompany the group for the mating period. Even then they are subordinate to females.

Range: Arizona south to Argentina.

Habitat: Woodland, lowland forest.

Size: Body: 17 - 26 1/4, in (43 - 67 cm); Tail: 17 - 26 3/4 in (43 - 68 cm).

White-nosed coati

They are very agile when climbing, but they use their long tail for balancing rather than gripping the tree branches.

The white-nosed coati is found in a variety of forest types, from rainforest to drier, high-altitude woodland. The silver hairs mixed into the grey-brown fur produce a grizzled look. The snout, which is long and flexible, has a white band near its tip. The long tail, which has black rings, is raised above the body when the animal walks.

Coatis are most active during the day. They are bold by nature, and it is not uncommon for them to scavenge around campsites. They forage for insects on the ground and then retreat to the trees to spend the night. In areas where they are hunted, however, they are much more wary, and are nocturnal in their habits. Males live alone, while females form bands of up to 20 individuals. Males are tolerated by the females, but once they approach sexual maturity the males are chased away.

This species has plantigrade feet, meaning that its bodyweight is spread over the whole foot. This provides stability as the coati moves through the trees. (Only a few species are plantigrades, including bears and humans.) The long, semi-prehensile tail aids balancing and climbing.

In early spring, the most dominant male in the area is accepted into the female band. He mates with each of the females in a tree, after which they chase him off. New bands form when existing ones become too large and split.

Distribution: Southeastern Arizona and New Mexico in the USA, southwards through Central America down as far as Panama, occurring in wooded areas of various types.

Habitat: Forests.

Weight: 5 - 9 kg (11 - 20 lb); males are heavier.

Length: 110 - 120 cm (43 - 47 in); about 30 cm (12 in) tall.

Food: Omnivorous, eating small animals, carrion, eggs and fruit; may also dig up invertebrates.

Maturity: Females 2  years; males 3            years.

Gestation Period: 77 days.

Breeding: 3 - 7,averages 4; weaning occurs at 6 weeks.

Lifespan: 7 - 8 years in the wild; up to 15 in captivity.

Status: Common.


Long, very flexible and slightly turned up at its tip, the nose is used rather like another limb.


Long and ringed along its length, the tail ends in a brown tip.


Limbs are strong and powerful. Long, sharp claws especially on the front legs, are useful for digging.

Facial markings

There are white flashes and a broader white area around the nose.


Adult male coatis are likely to fight each other. They possess a formidable battery of teeth capable of inflicting serious bites.

Ring-tailed coati

Coatis have long muzzles. They use these to root out food from rocky crevices and from knots in trees. Coatis forage both on the ground and in trees. On the ground they hold their long tails erect, with the tips curled. In trees, coatis’ tails are prehensile enough to function as a fifth limb. The tips curl around branches to provide support in more precarious locations.

Ring-tailed coatis are most active during the day. When there is plenty of fruit on the trees, they will eat little else. However, during seasons when fruit is less abundant, they come down to the forest floor to forage for insects and rodents.

Like all coatis, this species has a long and pointed muzzle with an articulated tip. Ring-tailed coatis have long, coarse fur, and tails banded with white stripes.

Ring-tailed coatis tend to congregate in bands of up to 20 females and young. Adult males live alone and are only allowed into bands during the breeding season, which is the time when there is plenty of fruit available.

Distribution: Northern South America as far as Argentina.

Habitat: Woodland.

Food: Fruits, insects, rodents.

Size: 41 - 67 cm (16 - 26.5 in); 3 - 6 kg (6.5 - 13.25 lb).

Maturity 2 years.

Breeding: 2 - 7 young born in rainy season.

Life span: 10 years.

Status: Common.

Mountain coati

Size: Head and body 35 - 45 cm (14 - 18 in); 2 kg (4.5 lb).

Mountain coatis closely resemble other coatis. but they tend to be smaller and have shorter tails. They are very rare and live in tropical forests on the slopes of the Andes Mountains in northern South America. They feed on insects, fruits and small vertebrates, which they find in the trees and on the ground.