Nasua naricawhite-nosed coati

Geographic Range

The white-nosed coati ranges from southeastern Arizona through Mexico and Central America and into western Colombia and Ecuador. (Macdonald 1985)


White-nosed coatis will occupy many different types of habitat, from tropical lowlands to dry, high-altitude forests. (Macdonald 1985)

Physical Description

The body length is 80-130 cm, over half of that being the tail. Their coat is a grayish brown with "silver grizzling" on the sides of the arms (Macdonald 1985). The snout is long and pointed with a flexible end. The face has a white band near the end of the nose. There is a white spot above and below each eye as well as on each cheek. Touches of white are also present on the underside of the throat and belly. The coati is plantigrade with shorter forelegs than hindlegs. The feet are black and have naked soles. The forefeet also have bent claws. The tapering tail of extreme length is covered with black rings and held erect while walking. The coat color and muzzle markings are the only physical characteristics dissimilar from its relatives the ringtailed coati (Nasua nasua) and the mountain coati (Nasuella olivacea). (Macdonald, 1985; Nowak, 1999; Parker, 1989)

  • Range mass
    3 to 5 kg
    6.61 to 11.01 lb
  • Range length
    80 to 130 cm
    31.50 to 51.18 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    6.733 W


In February or March, the most dominant male in a female band's range will be allowed to enter it ranks, first through grooming and other submissive behaviors. Once accepted into the group, the male will breed with each member of the band in a tree, and is soon afterwards driven away from the group. This is because they are known to kill juveniles. The gestation period of the white-nosed coati is 77 days. About 3 to 4 weeks before giving birth, the female will depart the band to build a nest, most often in a palm tree. Between 2 and 7 young are born, and remain in the nest for several weeks. They weigh only 100-180 grams at birth and are dependent on their mother, who only leaves the nest to find food. The newborns will open their eyes at 11 days and be weaned after 4 months. After 5 months the mother and young descend from the nest and rejoin their group. A short time afterwards the male that mated with the band will appear for a short time, several days in a row in order to recognize their young. Adult body sized is reached by 15 months. Sexual maturity is reached by three years if age in males and two years of age in females. (Macdonald 1985, Nowak 1999)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    78 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    712 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    712 days



Adult males are sometimes active at night, but coatis are primarily diurnal. Days are spent mostly on the ground foraging, while nights are spent in treetops, sheltered from most predation. Males live solitary lives and establish ranges that they mark by spraying urine or dragging their abdomens on a surface and spreading anal secretions. Male ranges do not overlap, and they will fight when they meet another male. Bands of 4-20 individuals include males up to two years of age and females, who are not necessarily related. These groups are beneficial for many reasons, including protection of the young from predators. Grooming and nursing comes from both the mother of the young and other females equally. These relationships take time to develop, but once the bond is established between members, they are loyal to each other. Band home ranges are about 1 kilometer in diameter, and are overlapped on the edges by other groups. New bands arise from splitting of previous bands, which explains the lack of aggression between neighboring groups. A single band's range also includes the areas of several adult males. Defense is accomplished using their forefeet claws and sharp canines. Individuals may live up to 14 years of age. (Macdonald 1985,Nowak 1999)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

White-nosed coatis are omnivores that primarily eat insects. They will travel up to 2000 meters in a single day in a quest for food. They forage by keeping their muzzle down close to the forest floor and sniff around to find beetles, spiders, scorpions, ants, termites, grubs, centipedes, and even land crabs. When plentiful, fruit is also eaten. Occasionally coatis may search for small vertebrates, such as mice, lizards, and frogs. When hunting, coatis will "force vertebrates to the ground with their paws and kill by a bite to the head" (Parker et al. 1990). (Macdonald 1985)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Coatis are hunted for their meat and may also be kept as pets. Their fur has no value. (Parker 1989)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

White-nosed coatis will only occasionally cause crop damage, and rarely take small farm animals. (Nowak 1999)

Conservation Status

This species of coati was very plentiful in the 1950s, but suffered major population declines in the early 1960s for unknown reasons. Populations have since been recovering and this population increase has been accompanied by a northward extension of their range. The threats to their numbers are legal hunting by humans and several predators including cats, boas, and large predatory birds. (Nowak 1999)

The species is rated "Lower Risk" by the IUCN. The government of Honduras has listed its population of the species in Appendix III of CITES, placing restrictions on international trade in their animals. (Nowak, 1999)


Jonathan Marceau (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


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

World Map


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.


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.


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


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

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


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.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


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


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


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

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


Macdonald, D. 1985. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File, Inc..

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press University Press University Press.

Parker, S. 1989. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Hastings-on-Hudson, New York: The Language Service, Inc..