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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

White-nosed Coati
Order Carnivora : Family Procyonidae : Nasua narica (Linnaeus)

White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica).  Photo by Alfred M. Bailey.Description. A raccoon-like carnivore, but more slender and with longer tail; snout long, slender, and projecting well beyond lower lip; five toes on each foot; tail with six or seven indistinct light bands; ears short; general color of upperparts grizzled yellowish brown, fulvous on top of head; snout and areas around eyes white, as is inside of ears; dark brown facial band across snout between eyes and whiskers, interrupted on top of snout by extensions of white from stripe above eye; lower legs and tops of feet blackish brown; underparts pale buff, lightest, nearly white on chin. Young like adults, but bands on tail more conspicuous. Molars adapted for crushing, not shearing as in most carnivores; upper canines flattened laterally, broad basally, shaped like a spear point; lower canines with a deep groove on inner face. Dental formula as in the raccoon. External measurements of adult male: total length, 1,130 mm; tail, 500 mm; hind foot, 91 mm; ear from notch, 30 mm. Weight, 4-5 kg.

Species distribution mapDistribution in Texas. Coatis inhabit woodland areas of the warmer parts of Central America, Mexico, and the extreme southern United States including southern Texas. In Texas, they are only rarely known from Brownsville to the Big Bend region of the Trans-Pecos. They have been reported from Aransas, Brewster, Cameron, Hidalgo, Kerr, Maverick, Starr, Uvalde, and Webb counties.

Habits. Coatis spend considerable time on the ground, but they climb trees as easily as a squirrel. When in trees, their long tail seems to function, as does that of a squirrel, largely in maintaining balance. They also occur in some of the rocky canyons that enter the mountains from the lowlands. Except for old males, which are largely solitary in habit, coatis are sociable creatures and travel in packs or troops.

Unlike their relatives, the raccoons and ringtails, coatis are largely active by day, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon. They are omnivorous and consume a wide variety of available food including insects and other ground-dwelling arthropods, lizards, snakes, carrion, rodents, nuts and fruits of native trees, and prickly pear. Captives have eaten bananas, milk, and bread.

Their breeding habits are not well-known. One of us (Davis) purchased a young coati near Mante, Tamaulipas, Mexico in mid-June of 1941 that was estimated to have been 6 weeks old, indicating that it was born about May 1. The man from whom it was purchased reported that four were in the litter. He was of the opinion that all the young are born in the spring of the year. In Arizona, mating takes place in April and young are born in June. The animals are thought to be polygamous. The female alone rears and provides for her offspring.

Remarks. Previous editions have listed the coati under the scientific name Nasua nasua. However, we follow Decker in treating the white-nosed coati as specifically distinct from N. nasua of South America.

Photo credit: Alfred M. Bailey.