White-nosed Coati, Nasua narica

The white-nosed coati (Nasua narica) is a species of coati that is related to raccoons. Its common local names include the antoon, the pizote, and the tejon. The latter name, tejon, is primarily used in Mexico and it means badger. It is native to the Americas, and lives at altitudes between sea level and 9,800 feet. Its range stretches through New Mexico and southeastern Arizona and throughout Central America and Mexico. It reaches the farthest areas of northwestern Colombia, but its southern range is not yet defined.

One species of coati, found on Cozumel Island, is considered by most to be a subspecies of the white-nosed coati. However, the Cozumel Island coati has also been considered a separate species. These coatis are smaller than N. n. yucatanica, a subspecies of the white-nosed coati that can be found on the neighboring mainland. Its similarities and differences support its classification as a subspecies.

The white-nosed coati appears in the state of Florida in the United States, where it has been introduced, although the time at which it was introduced is not known. There is one specimen, which can be found in the Florida Museum of Natural History that dates back to 1928 and is labeled as “an escaped captive”. There have been many cases of coatis escaping captivity after 1928, and since the 1970’s many sightings have occurred in southern Florida.

The white-nosed coati can reach an average weight between 8.8 and 13.2 pounds and it can have an average body length of up to 3.5 feet, of which up to half the length can comprise the tail. Males are typically larger than females.

The white-nosed coati is typically active during the day, unlike some of its relatives in the Procyonidae family. However, in some human populated areas of its range, it has adapted into a nocturnal lifestyle in order to avoid being hunted. It prefers a habitat in arid and wet wooded areas.

Sexually mature males of this species are usually solitary, while females and immature males often form groups. Young males, and occasionally females, will take part in play fighting. Individuals are capable of making many vocalizations for communication, and they will also use grooming for social bonding.

The white-nosed coati is omnivorous and it will eat insects, fruit, carrion, eggs, and vertebrates. Although it is capable of climbing trees, using its tail to balance, it can most often be seen foraging for food on the ground. It is able to adapt to human populated areas, and have taken to foraging like raccoons. It is known to have short fights over food.

There are many common predators of the white-nosed coati including boas, hunting cats, and tayras. It has been noted as an intelligent species and can be tamed easily. The white-nosed coati appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: A White-nosed Coati in Costa Rica. Photographed by the side of a road from a car. Credit: Bruce Harlick/Wikipedia(CC BY 2.0)