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coati papagayo roaming around hotel
 - Costa Rica




  • Scientific Name: Nasua nasua
  • Status in the Wild: Common
  • Habitat: Cloud Forests, Rainforests, Tropical Dry Forests, Woodlands
  • Diet: Omnivore

White-nosed coatimundis, known locally as pizotes, are a member of the raccoon family. These curious creatures adapt easily to a variety of terrains and are native to the southwest United States as well as Mexico, Central and South America.

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The white-nosed coatimundi, or coati, is one of Costa Rica’s 200 mammal species, and is commonly mistaken for a raccoon or large house cat, as it is similar in size and appearance. Coati fur is typically reddish-brown to dark brown in color. Their heads are long and slender with a pointed snout well-adapted to rooting in the ground for insects.

Color variations are common, but many coatis have white or cream-colored rings around their eyes, snout and tails. Coatis can weigh upwards of nine pounds and their powerful, stout legs and sharp claws make them exceptional tree climbers. Coatimundis are diurnal, meaning they are usually most active during the day and seek the refuge of trees at night.

Like their raccoon relatives, coatis have an excellent sense of smell and are true omnivores. In Costa Rica, they eat a variety of fruits, leaves, nuts, eggs, invertebrates, lizards, crabs, fish and small mammals. They are also opportunistic feeders and will eat carrion if it is available.The coati communicates through a series of grunting, chirping and snorting sounds. In the wild, coatis have a lifespan of seven to twelve years.


Coatis are common throughout Costa Rica and can survive in diverse habitats. However, they prefer densely forested areas where food can easily be found. Coatis are frequently sighted in the tropical rainforest of Manuel Antonio National Park, along the mangrove estuaries of Cahuita National Park as well as the area near Arenal Volcano. With increased tourism, coatis have adapted easily to human presence and, like bears or raccoons, grow accustomed to being fed by people. This can ultimately lead to aggressive behavior as they beg for food and have been known to even raid campsites.  

Coati females and their young travel in bands of five to thirty individuals, spending most of their time on the ground foraging for food. Adult males are solitary creatures except during breeding season, when they are temporarily accepted into the female social group.


Breeding season varies from one location to the next and typically correlates with availability of food. Once a dominant male is accepted by the coati clan, he breeds with all of the females before returning to a solitary life. Female coatis make their nests in trees and give birth to three to six young after a 75-day gestation period.

Baby coatis are tiny (3 ounces) and are completely dependent on their mothers until they are six weeks old. Young coatis are weaned by four months and reach sexual maturity at two years of age. In general, coatis are very playful animals and young coatis can be especially mischievous.

Status in the Wild:

The white-nosed coatimundi is not considered a threatened species. Humans continue to encroach on coati territory, forcing these intelligent creatures to live in increasingly smaller areas. Natural predators to the coati include ocelots, jaguarundis, jaguars, hawks, foxes and boa constrictors. Humans occasionally hunt coatis for food, and there is an alarming demand for coatis as domesticated pets.

Coatimundis in Pictures

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