South American coati

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South American coati
Nasenbaer Nasua nasua Zoo Augsburg-04.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Procyonidae
Genus: Nasua
N. nasua[1]
Binomial name
Nasua nasua[1]
(Linnaeus, 1766)

13, see text

South American Coati area.png
South American coati range. Note: Also found in west Ecuador, and west and north Colombia, see text.

Viverra nasua Linnaeus, 1766

The South American coati (can-coon) (Nasua nasua), also known as the ring-tailed coati, is a coati species and a member of the raccoon family (Procyonidae), found in the tropical and subtropical parts of South America.[3] In Brazilian Portuguese, it is known as quati. An adult generally weighs from 2–7.2 kg (4.4–15.9 lb) and is 85–113 cm (33–44 in) long, with half of that being its tail.[4] Its colour is highly variable and the rings on the tail may be only somewhat visible, but its most distinguishing characteristic is that it lacks the largely white snout (or "nose") of its northern relative, the white-nosed coati.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Skull of a South American coati

The South American coati is widespread in tropical and subtropical South America. It occurs in the lowland forests east of the Andes as high as 2,500 m (8,200 ft) from Colombia and The Guianas south to Uruguay and northern Argentina.[2]

It has been recorded in west Ecuador, and north and west Colombia.[5][6] In Argentina, it has been recorded in Santa Fe and Salta Provinces.[7]

The only documented records of white-nosed coati in South America are from far northwestern Colombia, in the Gulf of Urabá region, near Colombian border with Panama.[5][6] The smaller mountain coati lives foremost at altitudes above the South American coati, but there is considerable overlap.[8]


A coati eating coffee beans
South American coatis are variable in color and can—among others—be almost black or orange-red[4]

South American coatis are diurnal animals, and live both on the ground and in trees. They are omnivorous, but primarily eat fruit, invertebrates, other small animals and bird eggs. 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.[9]

Females typically live in large groups, called bands, consisting of 15 to 30 animals. Males are usually solitary.[9] 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.[10]

Group members produce soft whining sounds, but alarm calls are different, consisting of loud woofs and clicks. Coatis typically sleep in the trees. When an alarm call is sounded, they climb trees, and then drop down to the ground and disperse.[9] Predators of the South American coati include foxes, jaguars, jaguarundis, domestic dogs, and people.[11]


A coati family in Iguazu Falls

All females in a group come into heat simultaneously when fruit is in season and mate with several males. Gestation period is 74 to 77 days.[3] Captive females give birth to 1–7 young at a time. In the wild, they leave the group for giving birth in a nest built in trees, and rejoin the group with their offspring 5–6 weeks later.[9] They usually remain with their natal group. Males generally disperse from their natal group at the age of three years. South American coatis generally live for up to 7 years in the wild, but can live up to 14 years in captivity.[3]


Viverra nasua was the scientific name proposed by Carl Linnaeus in 1766 for a red coati specimen.[12] It was subordinated to the genus Nasua. As of 2005, 13 subspecies were recognized:[1]

  • N. n. nasua (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • N. n. spadicea Olfers, 1818
  • N. n. solitaria Schinz, 1823
  • N. n. vittata Tschudi, 1844
  • N. n. montana Tschudi, 1844
  • N. n. dorsalis Gray, 1866
  • N. n. molaris Merriam, 1902
  • N. n. manium Thomas, 1912
  • N. n. candace Thomas, 1912
  • N. n. quichua Thomas, 1912
  • N. n. cinerascens Lönnberg, 1921
  • N. n. aricana Vieira, 1945
  • N. n. boliviensis Cabrera, 1956


  1. ^ a b Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b Emmons, L. & Helgen, K. (2016). "Nasua nasua". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T41684A45216227. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T41684A45216227.en.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c Gompper, M. E.; Decker, D. M. (1998). "Nasua nasua" (PDF). Mammalian Species. 580 (580): 1–9. doi:10.2307/3504444. JSTOR 3504444.
  4. ^ a b c Kays, R. (2009). South American Coati (Nasua nasua), pp. 526-528 in: Wilson, D. E., and R. A. Mittermeier, eds. (2009). Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Vol. 1, Carnivores. ISBN 978-84-96553-49-1
  5. ^ a b Decker, D. M. (1991). "Systematics of the Coatis, Genus Nasua (Mammalia, Procyonidae)" (PDF). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 104: 370–386. Archived 2014-10-06 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b Guzman-Lenis, A. R. (2004). "Preliminary Review of the Procyonidae in Colombia" (PDF). Acta Biológica Colombiana. 9 (1): 69–76. Archived 2014-04-26 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Eisenberg, J.; Redford, K. H. (1989). "Nasua nasua (Linnaeus, 1766)". Mammals of the Neotropics. The Central Neotropics: Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 288–289. ISBN 9780226195421.
  8. ^ Helgen, K. M.; Kays, R.; Helgen, L. E.; Tsuchiya-Jerep, M. T. N.; Pinto, C. M.; Koepfli, K. P.; Eizirik, E.; Maldonado, J. E. (2009). "Taxonomic boundaries and geographic distributions revealed by an integrative systematic overview of the mountain coatis, Nasuella (Carnivora: Procyonidae)" (PDF). Small Carnivore Conservation (41): 65–74.
  9. ^ a b c d Emmons, L. H. (1997). Neotropical Rainforest Mammals, A Field Guide (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 153–154. ISBN 978-0-226-20721-6.
  10. ^ "BBC Ring-tailed Coati". Archived from the original on 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  11. ^ "Southern Coati". Archived from the original on 2008-07-09. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  12. ^ Linné, C. (1766). "Viverra nasua". Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. 1 (12 ed.). Holmiae: L. Salvii.