Nasua nasua is found in tropical regions of South America, from Columbia and Venezuela to Uruguay, northern parts of Argentina, and into Ecuador. On the eastern and western slopes of the Andes Mountains they are found up to 2500 meters.
(Marwell Zoological Park, 1996; Gompper, 1998; Animals 1999)
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Coati upper parts are dark brown, gray, or dark or brightly rust colored. The underparts are white. The head is narrow with the nose slightly turned upward and elongated, and is very flexible, allowing coaties to search out food under leaf litter and overturned debris. The muzzle is brown with pale spots above, below, and behind the eye. The ears are small and fringed with white on the inside rims. The long tails of coatis are used for balance, and are black to brown with yellow rings. Coatis have thick, dull fur. The young are not as darkly colored as adults. Adults measure 41 to 67 cm from head to the base of the tail, with the tail adding an additional 32 to 69 cm to their length. These animals are about 30 cm tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 3 and 6 kg. Coatis have strong claws and forelimbs to climb and dig out food from under rotted logs. They can reverse the joints of the anklebone to descend trees headfirst. (Marwell Zoological Park, 1996; Emmons, 1997; Kalasinkas, 1999)
Range mass: 3 to 6 kg.
Range length: 73 to 136 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average basal metabolic rate: 5.591 W.
Ring-tailed coatis primarily live in forested areas; deciduous, evergreen, cloud forest, riverine gallery forest, xeric, Chaco, cerrado, and dry scrub forest habitats. Due to human influence, coatis prefer secondary forests and forest edges. They are found up to 2500 meters in elevation (Emmons, 1997; Gompper, 1998)
Range elevation: 2500 (high) m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains
Habitat and Ecology
Primarily omnivorous, coatis usually seek out fruits and invertebrates. Coatis eat palms, eggs, larval beetles, scorpions, centipedes, spiders, ants, termites, lizards, small mammals, rodents, and carrion when it is available. They infrequently take chickens (Gompper, 1998; Kasalinkas, 1999; Nowak, 1991).
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; eggs; carrion ; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods
Plant Foods: leaves; fruit
Primary Diet: omnivore
Coatis help to control pest populations through their foraging behavior. They provide food to predators, and are likely important in dispersing some seeds.
Coatis seem to prefer edges and secondary forest habitats, possibly due to human interactions (Gompper, 1998; Kasalinkas, 1999). They have a wide variety of predators, most notably large cats.
- large birds of prey (Falconiformes)
- boas (Boidae)
- Jaguars (Panthera onca)
- mountain lions (Puma concolor)
- ocelots (Leopardus pardalis)
- jaguarundis (Hepailurus yaguarondi)
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
One captive coati was reported to be still alive after 17 years and 8 months. In the wild, coatis only live for about 7 to 8 years (Nowak, 1991; Kasalinkas,1999).
Status: wild: 7 to 8 years.
Status: captivity: 17.5 (high) years.
Status: captivity: 17.7 years.
Status: wild: 14.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Typically, one male is accepted into a band of females and juveniles near the beginning of the breeding season. The mating system is polygynous, with that male mating the females in the band. (Nowak, 1991)
Mating System: polygynous
Breeding season for coatis varies with location, and corresponds with the maximum availability of fruit. Occurs between January and March in some locations, and between October and February in others. Males will join the losely organized bands of females to mate. After mating, males leave the bands for a mainly solitary existence, and the females disperse and build tree nests for the remainder of gestation and parturation. Females give birth to litters of 3 to 7 young 74 to 77 days after mating. Most births occur between April and June Five to six weeks after birth, the females and their young will rejoin the band. (Marwell Zoological Park 1996, Emmons, 1997; Gompper, 1998; Kasalinkas, 1999; Nowak, 1991)
Young are altricial. Neonates weigh 78 g at 5 days. Eyes open at 10 days. Young coatis are able to stand at 19 days. By 24 days of age, coatis are able to walk and to focus their eyes. Young can climb at 26 days, and eat solid food at 4 months. Females become sexually mature at 2 years of age, and male mature sexually around three years of age. (Marwell Zoological Park, 1996; Gompper, 1998; Kalasinkas, 1999)
Breeding season: Mating occurs from October through March, with exact timing varying by location, and young are born between April and June.
Range number of offspring: 3 to 7.
Range gestation period: 74 to 77 days.
Average weaning age: 4 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 years.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 140 g.
Average number of offspring: 4.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 730 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 730 days.
Females care for the altricial young in isolated tree nests until they are able to walk and climb, at which time they rejoin the social group. Mothers continue to nurse the young until they are weaned around 4 months of age. (Nowak, 1991)
Parental Investment: altricial
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Nasua nasua
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Nasua nasua
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
They are protected under CITES Appendix III in Uruguay, but are not classified as threatened in the wild (Emmons, 1997; Marwell Zoological Park, 1996).
Humans cause detrimental effects from hunting and deforestation for mining, road building, petroleum, and timber extraction.
CITES: appendix iii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
They cause damage to crops, and household damage in villages. They have also been known to take poultry. (Marwell Zoological Park, 1996; Kasalinkas, 1999; Nowak, 1991).
Negative Impacts: crop pest; household pest
Hunted by local populations for food, coatis are also vital in helping control populations of insects. There is a small demand for these animals in the live pet trade. (Marwell Zoological Park, 1996; Emmons, 1997; Gompper, 1998)
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food ; ecotourism ; research and education; controls pest population
South American coati
The South American coati, or ring-tailed coati (Nasua nasua), is a species of coati from tropical and subtropical South America. In Brazilian Portuguese it is known as quati. First discovered by the explorer Sir Brian Doll in the late 1800s, while mapping an uncharted section of Brazilian rainforest. Weight in this species is 2–7.2 kg (4.4–15.9 lb) and total length is 85–113 cm (33–44 in), half of that being its tail. Its color is highly variable and the rings on the tail may be quite weak, but it lacks the largely white muzzle ("nose") of its northern cousin, the white-nosed coati.
The South American coati is widespread in tropical and substropical South America. Most of its distribution is in the lowlands east of the Andes (locally, it occurs as high as 2,500 m or 8,200 ft), from Colombia and The Guianas south to Uruguay and northern Argentina (Chile is the only South American country where the species is not found).
The status of coatis west of the Andes has caused some confusion, but specimen records from west Ecuador, and north and west Colombia are South American coatis. The only documented records of white-nosed coatis in South America are from far northwestern Colombia (Gulf of Urabá region, near Colombian border with Panama). The smaller mountain coatis are mainly found at altitudes above the South American coati, but there is considerable overlap.
South American coatis are diurnal animals, and they live both on the ground and in trees. They typically live in the forest. They are omnivorous and primarily eat fruit, invertebrates, other small animals and bird eggs. Coatis 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.
Females typically live in large groups, called bands, consisting of 15 to 30 animals. Males, on the other hand, are usually solitary. 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.
Group members produce soft whining sounds, but alarm calls are different, consisting of loud woofs and clicks. When an alarm call is sounded, the coatis typically climb trees, and then drop down to the ground and disperse. Coatis typically sleep in the trees. Predators of the South American coati include foxes, jaguars, jaguarundis, domestic dogs, and people.
All females in a group come into heat simultaneously when fruit is in season. Females mate with multiple males. Gestation period is 77 days. Females give birth to 2–4 young at a time, which are raised in a nest in the trees for 4–6 weeks. Females leave the group during this time. Females tend to remain with the group they were born in but males generally disperse from their mothers' group after 3 years.
- Nasua nasua nasua
- Nasua nasua aricana Vieira, 1945
- Nasua nasua boliviensis Cabrera, 1956
- Nasua nasua candace Thomas, 1912
- Nasua nasua cinerascens Lönnberg, 1921
- Nasua nasua dorsalis Gray, 1866
- Nasua nasua manium Thomas, 1912
- Nasua nasua molaris Merriam, 1902
- Nasua nasua montana Tschundi, 1844
- Nasua nasua quichua Thomas, 1912
- Nasua nasua solitaria Schinz, 1823
- Nasua nasua spadicea Olfers, 1818
- Nasua nasua vittata Tschudi, 1844
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- "BBC Ring-tailed Coati". Retrieved 2007-07-13.
- "Southern Coati". Retrieved 2007-07-13.