White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica)

USFWS photo of coati by J. Rorabaugh

Photo by J. Rorabaugh, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service*

Though they are close relatives of the raccoon, coatis are gregarious animals that usually live in social bands. They have long tails and are greyish brown in color with characteristic white markings above and below the eyes as shown in the photo. Coatis have entered the Arizona upland desert from the Chihuahuan desert. Because they seek the cooler high elevation areas they are able forage for food during daylight hours when many animals are sleeping in their dens. By using nose and front paws equipped with strong curved claws, coatis unearth insects, worms, small mammals, and reptiles. They are nimble climbers and can seek safety in trees when necessary. Trees also offer additional menu items such as birds' eggs, berries, and fruits.

Coati drawing

The large coati bands that can be found in the Huachuca and Chiricahua mountains are made up of adult females with their young. When the young males reach about two years of age they go off on their own and rejoin the groups only at the breeding season. A full-grown coati weighs about 10 pounds and is about 40" in length, with as much as 20" of that being the characteristic ringed tail that is frequently held straight up as shown in the drawing above and the photo below.

Coati at Saguaro National Park

Photo courtesy the National Park Service,
Saguaro National Park

*To see more Fish and Wildlife Service photos of Arizona Animals click on the Image Library link at Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/