Creature Feature: White-nosed Coati

The white-nosed coati (Nasua narica) is a medium-sized, omnivorous mammal. You can find them in the mountains and riparian areas of the Sky Islands. The coati ranges from the American Southwest through Mexico to Colombia. And there’s another species called the South American coati (Nasua nasua) — but you can tell them apart easily because they don’t have a white snout.

Coatis are in the Procyonidae family, along with other local species like raccoons and ringtails. They all have distinctive striped tails, but coatis have the longest. They hold their tails up when they forage. And often the tail is the only thing we’ll see on our wildlife cameras.

White-nosed coatis have an interesting social lifestyle. The females and young are very social, forming troops of up to 20 individuals. Males, however, are solitary. This social dynamic led biologists to believe for many years that the two sexes were completely separate species, just based on their behavior! This is how the name coatimundi came about, referring to the lone male, and coati referring to the social females.