Nasua narica (Linnaeus, 1766)

Don E. Wilson & Russell A. Mittermeier, 2009, Procyonidae, Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Volume 1 Carnivores, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 504-530 : 527-528

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Nasua narica


7. View Plate 30: Procyonidae

White-nosed Coati

Nasua narica

French: Coati a nez blanc / German: WeiRrissel-Nasenbéar / Spanish: Coati pizote

Taxonomy. Viverra narica Linnaeus, 1766 .

“America” subsequently restricted to Achotal, Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Ver acruz, Mexico.

Its precise southernmost distribution and potential overlap with N. nasua are not well known. The Dwarf Coati, nelsoni, is sometimes considered a full species. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution.

N. n. narica Linnaeus, 1766 — S Mexico, Central America, and N & W Colombia.

N. n. molaris Merriam, 1902 — Mexico and SW USA.

N. n. nelsoni Merriam, 1901 — Mexico (Cozumel I).

N. n. yucatanicaJ. A. Allen, 1904 — Mexico (Yucatan Peninsula). View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head-body 43-68 cm,tail 42-68 cm; weight 3.5-5. 6 kg. Males are about 20% larger than females. N. n. nelsoni, commonly referred to as the Dwarf Coati, is smaller: head-body 41.6-43. 7 cm, tail 32-:8-34. 8 cm. Coatis are unique in the animal world, with their long pointed snouts and upright, ringed tails. The White-nosed Coati is distinguished from the South American Coati by its white muzzle and in having hair on the neck in a normal posterior position. Pelage coloration is quite variable, ranging from pale to reddish to almost black, often overlaid with some yellow or silver. The rings in the tail may be strongly or weakly evident.

Habitat. White-nosed Coatis occupy a variety of wooded habitats, especially tropical rainforests, ranging up to 2879 m. In the north they concentrate in riparian pinyonoak-juniper habitats, but occasionally range into deserts and savannas.

Food and Feeding. White-nosed Coatis are omnivorous, eating primarily invertebrates and fruit but also consuming vertebrates and carrion when available. In Panama, 44% of coati foraging was on leaf-litter invertebrates, 56% on fruit, and less than 1% on vertebrates. As they walk along searching for food they use their long snouts to constantly sniff in the leaf litter. Prey is dug up or extracted from debris. Animals with harmful bites or stings are often killed by rolling them between the paws, which also removes hairs or spiny projections. Coatis eat fallen fruit under trees, but also climb to pick fresh fruit. Although they are adept climbers, most (over 90%) of their foraging is done on the ground. At least one species of bird, an understory hawk,is thought to associate with bands of White-nosed Coatis to hunt prey fleeing foraging coatis. Whitenosed Coatis have been observed grooming themselves with the resin of Trattinnickia aspera, presumably for some pharmaceutical value.

Activity patterns. White-nosed Coatis are primarily diurnal, spending the night hiding in trees or rocky ledges. They spend about 90% of their waking hours foraging, although they may take rests of up to two hours in the high-fruit season.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. The amount of space used by coatis is flexible across their range, with population averages varying from 0-33 to 13-5 km? in different habitats. The high end of this variation is in Arizona, where home range size averaged 13-5 km?* for bands, 6-1 km? for solitary males, and did not fluctuate greatly between seasons or years. In Mexican dry forest home range size averaged 3-8 km? and was not different between males and bands in total area. Bands used roughly half as much area in the wet season, although males did not change ranging behavior seasonally. Additionally, range size varied greatly (from 45 and 362 ha) within the dry forest in ways that were notrelated to food abundance, butto the dispersion of water sources during the dry season. In Panamanian rainforest, home range size averaged about 0-33 km*® for both males and females. Coatis are among the most gregarious of the Carnivora . White-nosed Coati groups have been reported as large as 30, although 5-18 animals are more typical. These matrilineal groups, known as bands, are composed primarily of related females and their offspring. Some non-relatives may also be in the band, although they receive more aggression, and less coalition support, from other band members. The size of groups fluctuates over time due to mortality, newly born juveniles, and emigrating subadult males. Large groups often split into subgroups that separate for several hours or days, and sometimes fission permanently into two groups. Fusion of previously separate groups has also been noted, although groups are typically slightly antagonistic to neighboring groups. Most males are solitary, and are usually chased awayif they approach female groups. However, some males are tolerated, and groups may have a few adult males associating with them. These are typically older offspring remaining in their natal home range and they do notsire offspring with the group. They may associate with groupsto take advantage of grooming or for the safety in numbers. Group members show a variety of cooperative behaviors including shared parental care, grooming, shared vigilance, and cooperative attacks on potential predators. Food is not shared between adults, although juveniles are tolerated by feeding animals. Group members do not cooperate to hunt invertebrates and females are actually more efficient when hunting away from the group. However, grouping may help the smaller females gain access to fruiting trees, as groups cooperate to chase away larger males that would otherwise be dominant in one-on-one interactions. Reducing predation risk seems to be a universal benefit of grouping in coatis. For example, in dry forests larger coati groups can drink more at water holes, a focal point for predators. Predation rates can be high, causing more than 50% of deaths in some populations in Mexico and Arizona. Predation rates are highest on solitary coatis and nexthighest on small groups, with larger groups having the lowest predation rate. These lower rates result from a suite of anti-predator behaviors, including foraging with the Juveniles in the center of the group, sharing vigilance, and alarm calling, and mobbing and attacking predators. Given their diurnal and social tendencies,it is not surprising that White-nosed Coatis have a rich repertoire of specific vocalizations for aggression, appeasement, alarm, and sexual contact. The two most common calls are chirps and squawks. Squawks are longer-duration, low-maximum frequency, wide-bandwidth calls with six resonances and little frequency modulation. Chirps are tonal calls of shorter duration, with frequency modulations. Chirps are high frequency, extending above the human hearing range into ultrasonic frequencies (30-55 kHz). They seem to function as contact calls, being emitted only while bands of coatis are moving. The short duration and high frequency of the calls may allow for contact with nearby group members while minimizing auditory detection by predators. Unique features of each coati’s chirp also may allow individual recognition. Like most Carnivora , coatis are also known to scent-mark. Males mark with a perineal gland throughout the year, while females primarily mark only before the mating season.

Breeding. Breeding is highly seasonal in White-nosed Coatis, typically within a 2-4 week period. This occursin late January in Panama. Mating has been observed in the trees and on the ground. The mating system for coatis in Tikal National Park, Guatemala has been described as a mobile lek, with aggregations of males following female bands and climbing into the trees above them to display. Male vocalizations were similar to the alarm calls given by coatis in bands, but they were repeated steadily for many minutes at a time, not given in several-second bursts as in alarm situations. Females then selected one of these males to mate, by climbing up into the tree where he was displaying. This unique behavior has not been described for other coati populations, so it is unclear how widespread it is. Females can first breed at 22 months, but often wait another year or two depending on ecological conditions. Males can first mate at 34 months, but because of competition for matings, may not be successful until they are four or five years old; some males are probably never able to breed. Females leave their bandsto give birth in a tree after a 70-77 day gestation period. Young coatis begin to walk at eleven days and are able to rejoin the band with their mothers by 40 days. Litter size is 1-6, although some die before rejoining the band. Most females rejoin the band with an average of 3-5 juveniles. Females nurse for up to four months, and will nurse and care for offspring from other band members. Young males leave the band and becomesolitary after about two years. Animals in captivity have lived to 17 years, and to at least nine in the wild.

Status and Conservation. Most White-nosed Coatis are classified as a species of Least Concern by The IUCN Red List as they are widespread and often common in a variety of habitats. Their groups are vulnerable to hunting, but can thrive in fragmented habitats if not persecuted. One subspecies, nelsoni, is restricted to Cozumel Island, Mexico, where the total population is estimated at only 150 animals, and 1s listed as Endangered.

Bibliography. Booth-Binczik et al. (2004a, 2004b), Burger & Gochfeld (1992), Chapman (1935), Compton et al. (2001), Cuaron et al. (2004), Gompper (1995, 1996, 1997), Gompper & Hoylman (1993), Gompper & Krinsley (1992), Gompper et al. (1997, 1998), Hass (2002b), Hass & Valenzuela (2002), Kaufmann (1962), Maurello et al. (2000), Ratnayeke et al. (1994), Valenzuela & Ceballos (2000), Valenzuela & Macdonald (2002), Wright et al. (2000).














Nasua narica

Don E. Wilson & Russell A. Mittermeier 2009

Viverra narica

Linnaeus 1766