South American Coati, Nasua nasua

The South American coati (Nasua nasua), also known as the ring-tailed coati, is native to South America. Its range is large and includes lowland tropical and subtropical habitats. The only South American country where this species does not occur is Chile. It can be found at elevations of up to 8,200 feet. This species is locally known as quati in the Portuguese language. It holds thirteen recognized subspecies.

The South American coati can reach an average body length between thirty-three and forty-four inches, with an average weight of up to sixteen pounds. Its tail is long, taking up nearly half of its body length. The coloring of this species can vary, and the rings found on the tail can be dark or light. Unlike its relative, the white-nosed coati, this species does not have a white nose.

The South American coati is active during the day, and can be found in trees or on the ground. Males are typically solitary, but females will gather groups known as bands, which consist of fifteen to thirty individuals. Because males differ in habit so much from females, they were once thought to be a separate species, and were given the name coatimundis. Neither males nor females hold a distinct territory. Females will communicate using soft whining vocalizations. When sounding an alarm, alerting other coatis to danger, a loud barking noise is emitted. After this call is made, the coatis will climb into the trees, dropping down soon after to scatter. Common predators of this species include jaguars, foxes, domesticated dogs, and jaguarundis, and they are also hunted by humans. The diet of this species consists mainly of fruit and invertebrates, but it will eat birds, eggs, and other small creatures.

The breeding season for the South American coati occurs when fruit is most abundant. Females will mate with many males, and after a pregnancy period of seventy-seven days, a litter between two and four young is born. Before giving birth, females will leave their group to raise their young, which can take up to six weeks. Once the young are weaned, they will return to the group with their mother. Females typically remain in their birth group, while males disperse at about three years of age. The average lifespan of this species is seven years in the wild and fourteen years in captivity. The South American coati appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: A young Ring Tailed Coati (Nasua nasua). Amiens Zoo. Credit: Vassil/Wikipedia