The Coati Mundi: The Raccoon's Big Cousin

By Dave Hanks

I sat in front of a bird watering and feeding spot in southern Arizona - when suddenly what should appear, but a very large raccoon-like animal. I’d never seen one like it before. He came to drink sugar water out of a jar hanging on a limb - and he made short work of it, licking it clean enough to put back into the cupboard. He then turned his attention to me, and I responded by getting up on the back of my chair.

He was bigger than his cousin (longer and heavier), with a very long nose and tail. However, the tail was banded (raccoon-like). The long nose is adapted to experience an acute sense of smell. Perhaps that was why he came at me. Ha, ha! My research identified him as a Coati Mundi (kow’ aatee monday) These animals are diurnal omnivores that forage for food in daylight, which is different than their cousins.

Coati are excellent climbers and can easily come down a tree head first, because they can rotate their hind feet in the process. They sleep in trees in a nest of branches and leaves. They can run 15 miles per hour, which is about as fast as the average human can go. Their name indicates solitariness. However, the male is the loner. The females will collect in groups of up to 30. The male only joins the group to mate. Their life span is about seven years.

Some folks think they’re cute and try to make pets out of them. That’s a bad idea, because they don’t domesticate. An entertainer by the name of Andy Hernandez has taken Coati Mundi as his stage name – which is appropriate because this is a South and Central American, Mexican, and southwestern USA species.

(“Grandma, what a long nose you have!”)