The South American coati is a member of the raccoon family that lives in South America. Their coat varies in color and can be grey, brown, red and whitish. The snout is elongated and dark. The tail is black to brown in color and has yellow rings which in some individuals may be only slightly visible.
South American coatis are found in tropical and subtropical South America ranging from Colombia and The Guianas south to Uruguay and northern Argentina. They typically live in the forests including evergreen rainforest, cloud forest, deciduous rainforest, riverine gallery forest, xeric chaco, cerrado, and dry scrub forest.
South American coatis are diurnal animals, and they live both on the ground and in trees. They typically sleep in the trees. When foraging, they search for fruit in trees high in the canopy and use their snouts to poke through crevices to find animal prey on the ground. They also search for animal prey by turning over rocks on the ground or ripping open logs with their claws. Females typically live in large groups, called bands, consisting of 15 to 30 animals. Males, however, are usually solitary. Solitary males were originally considered a separate species due to the different social habits and were called "coatimundis", a term still sometimes used today. Neither bands of females nor solitary males defend a unique territory, and territories therefore overlap. South American coatis communicate with the help of soft whining sounds and alarm calls that sound as loud woofs and clicks. When an alarm call is sounded, coatis typically climb trees, and then drop down to the ground and disperse.
South American coatis are omnivorous and primarily eat fruit, invertebrates, other small animals and bird eggs. Their diet includes larval beetles, centipedes, scorpions, spiders, ants, lizards, termites, rodents, chickens and even carrion when it is available.
South American coatis have a polygynandrous mating system in which females mate with multiple males. The breeding season varies with location, usually when the fruit is in season (October-March). The gestation period lasts around 77 days. Females give birth to 2-4 kits at a time, which is raised in a nest in the trees for 4-6 weeks. During this time females leave the groups and stay with their newborn young until they are able to walk and climb. At 4 months of age, kits will be weaned and will start eating solid food. Young females become reproductively mature at 2 years of age and tend to remain with the group they were born in but males generally disperse from their mothers' group after 3 years.
Main threats to South American coatis include hunting for meat and habitat loss through deforestation.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the South American coati total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
Due to their diet, these animals affect insect populations in their range and act as seed dispersers of fruit they consume.