An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the July 31, 2011 Newsletter issued from written at Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 kms north of Mahahual, Quintana Roo, México
COATI ON A SNAG

Up at Hacienda Chichen, coatis, NASUA NARICA, were fairly common, but they moved too fast in too shadowy places for me to ever get a good picture {see below}. This Tuesday morning, then, I was happy to see one quietly perched in the fork of a dead snag in the mangroves, as shown below:

White-nosed Coati, NASUA NARICA

They say that coatis are common here, sometimes showing up daily raiding the compost heap, but this is the first one I've seen since arriving. Apparently they change their routines from time to time. In June I mentioned that I'd been seeing rabbitlike agoutis nearly every day, but since that report most weeks have passed without a single one appearing. Lots of animals periodically change their routines.

If the coatis I've seen until now have been hurrying about in dark places, why was this one perched unmoving in a sunny snag? Judging from that nasty wound in his snout -- and anyone can see that he's a male -- he might have up there trying to stay out of trouble after being hurt in a fight. My guess, though, is that he was trying to stay above the mosquitoes.

For, last Tuesday morning the wind was the calmest I've seen it since I've been here. Consequently that day mosquitoes drifting from the mangroves were even more pestilential than the biting flies, and that's saying a lot. When the wind blows normally, mosquitoes just can't get to us, and even the flies avoid the extra-windy beach. Also, mosquitoes stay close to the ground. I'll bet that that coati just was waiting until the sun got a little higher and the mosquitoes cleared out more before returning to the ground.


from the December 26, 2010 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO
FUZZY COATI

For the last week or so in early mornings a little troop of about seven Coatis, NASUA NARICA, has been orbiting around the hut. For over a year I've been trying to photograph one but it's been hard. They stick to the brush, obsessively move about snuffling the ground, and usually they're in such dim light and so far away that photographs turn out bad. This week I finally got at least a poor shot, the critter blurred because of the slow shutter speed required by the dim light, and he was moving fast. The picture is below:

White-nosed Coati, NASUA NARICA

The first time you see a Coati (coh-AH-tee), because of its bushy, ringed tail and the way it ambles on the soles of its feet, it's easy to recognize that it belongs to the same mammal family as Raccoons, the Procyonidae. One big difference between the two species is that the Coati's snout is long and slender. Also, often Coatis walk with their tails held straight up, though the one in the picture wasn't doing that.

As often is the case with Coatis I located this group by sound. They seemed to make no effort to be quiet and were constantly snapping twigs as well as snorting, grunting and chirping to one another like a family of little piglets rooting in mud. One of them must have entangled himself in something for suddenly he flopped onto the ground rolling and squealing piteously, his cohorts paying no attention at all, until suddenly he stopped, then continued foraging as if nothing had happened. Like Raccoons, Coatis are omnivores, so they're looking for roots, insects, fruits, lizards, eggs, garbage...

You can see that our Coati is reddish and soft-fuzzy. Often they are slate-gray and not nearly as fuzzy looking, and therefore more slinky in appearance. Though I haven't seen enough over several seasons to be sure, my impression is that the current reddish, soft-fuzzy look is their coat for the cooler dry season, while the dark, slinky appearance is for the hotter rainy season.

You may have heard the name coatimundi. That term should be applied only to male Coatis over two years of age who become solitary, joining female groups only during the breeding season. Hormone-juiced-up coatimundis bulk up to nearly twice the size of the females, lumber about like bears, and there's nothing slinky about them. In fact, some of my Maya friends insist that there are two Coati-type species here, just shaking their heads when I claim they're all the same thing.

Coatis are distributed from southern Arizona, New Mexico and Texas south through here all the way to northern Argentina. Here we also have Raccoons, the same species as in North America, but Coatis seem to be more common.