Coatimundi, White-Nosed Coatimundi, Pizote, Antoon, Tejón
The White-nosed coati, also called the coatimundi, is a coati species and member of the Procyonidae family (raccoons and relatives). The most outstanding feature of this animal is perhaps its long, pointed snout. Around its nose, its face has many sensory receptors which give it an extremely good sense of smell. Many muscles here allow great flexibility to the tip of its snout, which it uses to poke into crevices, seeking prey. A coati curls its snout above the water’s surface in an amazing way when drinking.
The White-nosed coati lives in the very southeast of Arizona, in the extreme south west of New Mexico, in Texas in the southwest, in Central America, Mexico and South America (Colombia). They occupy a wide range of habitat types, from dry high-altitude forests to tropical lowlands.
Habits and lifestyle
Extremely social, these animals live in groups called bands or troops, numbering 3–20 members or sometimes more. Groups mostly contain related adult females with their young, and disperse as pregnant females prepare for birthing in early summer. The group reunites two to three weeks after the births. Each group maintains a loose territory, which may overlap with those of other troops. When troops so meet, members will greet one another by grunting, squealing and sniffing. Occasionally members will change troops. The males leave their troop at adulthood (at two years old) and remain solitary, and will only interact with a troop during a short mating season. Only one male is allowed into a troop at a time, and if another male approaches at the same time, fierce fights between the males will usually ensue. Unlike most raccoon family members, coatis are active during the day, though adults sometimes rest in the shade when it is too hot. During the night they sleep amongst treetop braches and leaves, spending most of day seeking food, grooming, and resting.
Diet and nutrition
White-nosed coatis are omnivorous and primarily eat insects, but also frogs, small rodents, fruit and lizards.
White-nosed coatis are thought to be polygynous. From February until March, the male most dominant in a female troop’s range will be permitted to enter the ranks, after taking part in grooming and other behaviors that are submissive. Once the group accepts him, he will mate with all the members of the troop, but soon afterwards is driven away, as adult males can kill juveniles. Gestation is for 77 days. Around 3 to 4 weeks prior to birthing, females depart the troop to construct a nest, usually in a palm tree. 2 to 7 young are born, remaining for several weeks in the nest. They depend on their mother, and she will only leave the nest to seek food. The newborns open their eyes when they are 11 days old and are weaned after 4 months. The mother and young at 5 months descend from the nest to rejoin their group. By 15 months young reach adult size. Reproductive maturity is gained by males when they are three years old and females by two years old.
White-nosed coatis are threatened by extensive habitat loss and also hunting, in some areas. Throughout its range it is hunted for its skin and for food. In the United States occasionally it is caught in traps intended for other species or killed by hunters who are ostensibly hunting other species, or is a victim of 'predator' control campaigns. They are also susceptible canine distemper, rabies and other diseases.
White-nosed coati has a wide distribution range and its population estimates range from rare (USA) to common (Costa Rica), but no overall population estimate is available. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC), but its numbers today are decreasing.
Due to their diet, these animals affect insect populations in their range.
Fun facts for kids
- White-nosed coatis travel as far as 2,000 meters in a one day seeking food.
- When an individual is startled, the entire troop will jump into the trees, emitting clicks and "woofs".
- The young are very playful, spending much time chasing and wrestling each other.
- Coatis hold their ringed tails high when they walk. They use their tail for balance when climbing.
- These animals have double jointed ankles and are extremely flexible, and are able to descend trees headfirst.
- Coatis communicate through chirping, grunting or snorting, to display intentions or moods.