Nasuella olivaceamountain coati

Last updated:

Geographic Range

Mountain coatis (Nasuella olivacea) are found in the Andes of western Venezuela, Columbia, and Ecuador. They may also be found in the far north of Peru. (Cabrera, 1957; Nowak, 1997)

Habitat

Mountain coatis are found in high elevation forests over 2,000 m. (Aagard, 1982; Nowak, 1997)

  • Range elevation
    2000 (low) m
    6561.68 (low) ft

Physical Description

Mountain coatis are approximately half the size of common coatis (Nasua nasua) with head and body lengths of 360 to 390 mm, and tail lengths of 200 to 240 mm. Other information suggests that mountain coatis can be 70 to 80 cm long from nose to tail tip. Their thick, coarse fur is olive-brown to rust colored. Animals from Colombia and Venezuela have blackish undercoats, whereas those from Ecuador have whitish undercoats. Their tails are yellowish-gray with rings of black and are often held upright when walking. Their heads are slender, with long flexible snouts that give them the coati name. Forty small teeth with low crowns and sharp crests fill these long snouts .

Strong forelimbs and reversible ankles allow mountain coatis to descend trees head first. Additionally, the long tail aids in balancing while these animals climb trees.

(Eisenberg, 1989; Poglayen-Neuwall, 1990; Russell, 1984)

  • Range length
    36 to 80 cm
    14.17 to 31.50 in
  • Average length
    50.00 cm
    19.69 in

Reproduction

No information exists for N. olivacea. The following pertains to the closely related genus Nasua.

Adult males are usually loners but are accepted into a pack of coatis during the February to March mating season. These males will defend the pack from rival males via scent marking, and even physical aggression. After the mating season, the male is once again chased away from the pack by the females. Pregnant females will then separate themseves from the pack near the end of her 74 to 77 day gestation period. A litter of three to six young is born in platform nests built in trees by the female. (Poglayen-Neuwall 1990)

Note: No infomration exists for reproduction in mountain coatis. The following has been generalized from information regarding other coatis (Genus Nasua).

During the annual breeding season of February to March, one male will mate with several females within a clan of coatis. After a 74 to 77 day gestation period, three to six young are born. At birth, coatis are poorly developed (altricial). The young are weaned over four to five months, but remain close to their mother until she bears her next litter the following year. Both males and females reach sexual maturity in two to three years

After young males have reached their sexual maturity between two and three years of age, they are chased away from the pack. Females reach sexual maturity in about two years, but stay with the pack.

(Poglayen-Neuwall, 1990; Russell, 1984)

  • Breeding season
    INother coatis, the breeding season runs from February to March
  • Range number of offspring
    3 to 6
  • Range gestation period
    74 to 77 days
  • Range weaning age
    4 to 5 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Because no information exists regarding the parental care of mountain coatis, the following has been generalized from information available for the closely related genus, Nasua.

The newborn coatis are poorly developed (altricial) and it takes four days for their ears to open and eleven days for their eyes to open. Within three to four weeks, the young are able to explore their surroundings, although their mother prevents them from doing so until they rejoin their clan at about five weeks. While with the clan, the young are protected both by the mother and other clan members. During the weaning period of four to five months, the young are kept close to their mother with frequent whimpering sounds by the mother. After weaning, the mother and young will remain close until the mother bears her next litter.

(Poglayen-Neuwall, 1990; Russell, 1984)

Lifespan/Longevity

Mountain coatis, like other coatis, are expected to live for an average of 7 years in the wild. Although no mountain coatis have been kept in captivity, other coatis have lived for up to 17 years in captivity (Poglayen-Neuwall, 1990; Russell, 1984).

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    7 years

Behavior

Note: Generalized from information regarding all coatis, however Rodríguez-Bolaños and Sanchez suggest that behaviors of mountain coatis are similar to other coatis, although their group sizes are smaller.

Coatis are diurnal and territorial. They can be found, both singly and in social groups, depending upon sex. Coatis are unique amongst their relatives due to their preference for being active during the day as well as the socialness of the females. Many people are confused about the distinction between a coati and a coatimundi. The name "coatimundi" means "lone coati" in Guarani. Thus, coatimundi is the name typically given to adult male coatis who live and forage solitarily. The females travel in bands or clans of five to twelve individuals. They leave this clan only during the first few weeks of raising a newborn.

Within the clans, there is a dominance heirarchy. Social bonds are shown among females by mutual grooming and chasing away predators. Relatively recent research has suggested that cooperative relationships occur amongst not only genetic relatives, but also amongst unrelated females. As a result of these "friendships," clans are able to raise young effectively, allowing each individual to forage more and watch for predators less.

(Rodríguez-Bolaños & S·nchez, 2000; Russell, 1984)

Communication and Perception

Note: Because information is sparse for mountain coatis, this has been generalized from information regarding other coatis in the genus Nasua.

Coatis communicate most commonly by using vocalizations and scent marking. Females use a barking vocalization to warn their fellow clan members of the presence of danger. They also use whimpering sounds to keep their young close by during the process of weaning. Males most commonly use scents to establish territories and chase away rivals during mating. (Poglayen-Neuwall, 1990). Because of the close contact between mothers and infants, it is likely that tactile communication is common for this relationship. Also, coatis are known to groom one another, and this communicates information about social bonds from one coati to another.

Food Habits

Mountain coatis are omnivores that mostly eat insects. They utilize their powerful noses to sniff out beetles, grubs, termites, land crabs, other other invertebrates while occasionally catching frogs, lizards, and mice. Mountain coatis are said to be specialist consumers of small soil and subsoil animals in their habitat. Researchers found over 5,000 holes from digging left by a group of mountain coatis in an area no more than 35 square meters. Male coatis forage alone, and so are able to catch more lizards and rodents than females and young foraging in clans. (Rodríguez-Bolaños and S·nchez, 2000; Russell, 1984)

Foods eaten include: insects (Coleoptera, Orthoptera, Myriapoda and Hymenoptera), small vertebrates, eggs, non-insect invertebrates and fruit.

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Predation

Among clans of females and young coatis, members of the clan will sound a barking alarm when danger is detected such as the presence of a jaguar. The older females of the clan with often attempt to chase away the threat while the rest of the clan scurries up trees. (Poglayen-Neuwall, 1990)

Ecosystem Roles

As predators of insects and other invertebrates, mountain coatis probably have some effect of regulating their prey populations. Consumption of fruit, when available, may lead to dispersal of seeds. Their foraging behavior probably helps to aerate the soil.

As a prey species, the availability of these animals probably helps to regulate predator populations.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Coatis are sometimes hunted for meat, but it is unknown if the relatively rare mountain coatis specifically are hunted much. (Poglayen-Neuwall, 1990)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Where the ranges of mountain coatis come into contact with human settlements, they have been known to raid crops occasionally. (Poglayen-Neuwall, 1990; Russell, 1984)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Although moutain coatis are not currently listed by any organization as endangered or otherwise threatened, they are suspected by several groups, including the IUCN, to be rare. More research is needed to determine the actual status of the species.

As of 1998, discussions for the formation of the International Mountain Coati Management Group were underway for the purpose of supporting and guiding conservation efforts to protect "one of the least known and potentially most endangered procyonids" (IUCN, 1998). As of October 2001, the management group has not been publicized on the IUCN web site.

Other Comments

Little is known specifically about mountain coatis. Much of the information is inferred from studies of their close relatives.

Similar species include Ringtailed coatis, White-nosed coatis, and Island coatis.

Contributors

Tauno Hogue (author), Humboldt State University, Brian Arbogast (editor), Humboldt State University.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nomadic

generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

soil aeration

digs and breaks up soil so air and water can get in

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

2000. "2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed October 29, 2001 at http://www.redlist.org/search/details.php?species=14357.

"Species: Specialist Group Reports" (On-line). Accessed October 29, 2001 at http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/species/spec30/reports/09mvp.htm.

Aagaard, E. 1982. Ecological distribution of mammals in the cloud forests and paramos of the Andes, Merida, Venezuela. Ph.D. diss.. Colorado: Colorado State University.

Cabrera, A. 1957, 1961. Cat·logo de los mamiferos de América del Sur. Rev. Mus. Argentino Cien. Nat. Bernardo Rivadavia, 4: 1-732.

Eisenberg, J. 1989. Mammals of the Neotropics Vol. 1. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Nowak, R. 1997. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press.

Poglayen-Neuwall, I. 1990. Coatis (Genera *Nasua* and *Nasuella*). Pp. 461-463 in S Parker, ed. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Vol. 3. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.

Rodríguez-Bolaños, A., P. S·nchez. 2000. Trophic characteristics in social groups of the Mountain coati, *Nasuella olivacea* (Carnivora: Procyonidae). Small Carnivore Conservation, October 2000 Vol. 23: 1-6.

Russell, Ph.D., J. 1984. Coatis. Pp. 102-103 in D Macdonald, ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File Publications.