South American Coati

The South American Coati (Nasua nasua) is becoming an ever more popular feature in zoos and wildlife parks. The South American coati (also known as the Ring-tailed Coati) is one of only 2 species in the genus Nasua, the other being the White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica).



The South American coati comes from South America, mainly east of the Andes including Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay and Argentina. In fact it can be found in every South American country but Chile! Both nimble on the forest floor and high in the treetops, the coati can stay safe from predation from foxes and jaguars.



The coati is easy to identify, with its long tapered muzzle and long bushy tail, it cannot really be confused with any other animal. The South American coati is a grizzled brown-red colour, with a dark brown ringed tail. Its head is small and it has a prolonged snout and flexible nose with small ears and darker facial markings. Most adults grow to around 73-120cm in length, its tail making up about half its length, and weigh between 3.5-6kg (males are generally larger overall).


South American Coati head profile


Active by day, the South American coati is a hunter of invertebrates, small animals and eggs, and a scavenger of fruit. Observations have been made of coatis rolling tarantulas around on the ground (so as to remove the irritating hairs) before eating. 


Males tend to be solitary and were once thought to be a separate species, earning them the name of Coatimundi, whereas the females form large groups of up to 30 individuals. After a gestation period of around 73 - 77 days, an average litter of 3 - 4 is produced. With a lifespan of around 7 years in the wild, the South American coati can live for twice this in captivity.



It is currently listed by the IUCN as Least Concern. Due to escapes and possible releases, the South American Coati has a small population in Cumbria in the UK.


South American Coati profile


There are currently 13 subspecies recognised: Nasua nasua aricana, Nasua nasua boliviensis, Nasua nasua candace, Nasua nasua cinerascens, Nasua nasua dorsalis, Nasua nasua manium, Nasua nasua molaris, Nasua nasua montana, Nasua nasua nasua, Nasua nasua quichua, Nasua nasua solitaria, Nasua nasua spadicea, Nasua nasua vittata


South American Coati 2