Nasua nasua (Linnaeus, 1766)
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South American Coati
French: Coati brun / German: Nasenbar / Spanish: Coati rojo
Taxonomy. Viverra nasua Linnaeus, 1766 ,
America, later restricted to Pernambuco Brazil.
Twelve subspecies recognized.
Subspecies and Distribution.
N. n. nasua Linnaeus, 1766 — French Guiana S through NE Brazil to N Bahia.
N. n. dorsalis Gray, 1866 — Amazonian Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador.
N. n. arcana Vieira, 1945 — Brazil (Mato Grosso), Bolivia (Santa Cruz), Paraguay, and N Argentina.
N. n. boliviensis Cabrera, 1956 — Bolivia (Cochabamba, the Yungas).
N. n. candace Thomas, 1912 — Colombia.
N. n. anerascens Lonnberg, 1921 — N Argentina (Chaco).
N. n. manium Thomas, 1912 — Ecuador W of the Andes.
N. n. montana Tschudi, 1844 — Peru.
N. n. quichua Thomas, 1901 — S Ecuadorian Andes (Azuay).
N. n. solitaria Schinz, 1821 — SE Brazil (Minas Gerais, S. Bahia), NE Argentina (Misiones).
N. n. spadicea Olfers, 1818 — S Brazil and Uruguay.
Descriptive notes. Head-body 43-58 cm, tail 42-55 cm; weight 2.7-2 kg. Males larger than females. Coatis are unique in the animal world, with their long pointed snouts and ringed tails, which are typically held vertically. The South American Coatiis distinguished from the White-nosed Coati by having a brown or gray (not white) muzzle and in having hair on the neck in a reversed, anterior position. The South American Coati is also much larger than the Mountain Coati. The pelage coloration of South American Coats is variable across their range, and even within a litter. They are always brownish, but range from orangish or reddish to very dark brown, often with yellow highlights. The rings in the tail may be strongly or weakly evident.
Habitat. Found in a variety of forested habitats including rainforest, riverine gallery forest, cloud forest, and xeric Chaco, cerrado, and dry scrub forests up to 2500 m elevation.
Food and Feeding. Omnivorous feeders, South American Coatis eat a wide variety of invertebrates and fruit including larval beetles, scorpions, spiders, centipedes, and coleopterans. Rodents, fish, crabs, and carrion have also been reported. The most detailed study of South American Coati diet comes from south-eastern Brazil, where 226 fecal samples included plant parts (854%), insects (75:7%), millipedes (53-9%), 49 species of fruits (48:7%), spiders (33-6%), organic waste (9-7%), vertebrates (9-3%), and gastropods (2:6%). There was considerable variation over the year, with spider and millipede consumption increasing with rainfall, and fruits being an important food during periods of arthropod scarcity. Coatis are skilled at rolling noxious invertebrates in the leaf litter with their forepaws to remove spines, but will also reject some invertebrate species that emit noxious fluids or smells. A variety of bird species, including hawks, trogons, woodcreepers, and tanagers, have been observed following coati bands. These birds capture prey trying to escape the foraging coatis.
Activity patterns. This diurnal species spends nights in the trees. Most reports suggest that South American Coatis spend most oftheir days active on the ground. However, a population in the Atlantic forest of Brazil was encountered in the trees 60% of the time, where they were observed hunting small prey from bromeliads.
Movements, Home range and Social organization. The density of coatis across South America varies greatly. In some places it is one of the rarest mammals while in others it is among the most frequently observed. Published estimates range from 6-2-13 animals/km?®. Little is known about the movement patterns of South American Coatis, although one coati group in the Brazilian Atlantic forest had a home range of about 500ha. Females and their young travel in matrilineal bands of up to 65 individuals, although smaller (10-30) band sizes are typical. South American Coati groupstypically have one male, and he is the dominant animal in the group. Dominance is hierarchical according to age and sex, with male juveniles ranking second, followed by female juveniles, then adult females, and finally male and female subadults. The ability ofjuveniles to outrank larger adults comes from their aggressive defense of food resources and may not reflect “dominance” in the traditional sense as much as being “tolerated aggression”. Groups probably reduce the risk of predation to individual coatis through increased vigilance. For example, coatis frequently stop moving and silently look around with their heads raised to scan for predators. Animals at the edge of the group are more vigilant than those at the center, and animals at the front edge of the group were the most watchful. The primary predators of South American Coatis appear to be the larger felids, as coatis have been reported in the diet of the three largest predators in the region, Jaguars, Pumas, and Ocelots.
Breeding. After a 74-77 day gestation period, females leave their social groups to give birth to young in a tree nest, and return to the group after five or six weeks. Littersize ranges from 1-7 and is typically 3-4. Allonursing has been observed in captivity. Pups can walk well by 24 days and begin climbing by about four weeks. Breeding is seasonal, but the timing varies across their range.
Status and Conservation. Classified as species of Least Concern by The IUCN Red List. Coatis are hunted and are sometimes an important food source. If not hunted, they can flourish in disturbed habitat.
Bibliography. Alves-Costa & Eterovick (2007), Alves-Costa et al. (2004), Beisiegel (2001, 2007), Beisiegel & Mantovani (2006), Bisbal (1986), Di Blanco & Hirsch (2006), Gompper & Decker (1998), Hirsch (2007a), Marquez & Farina (2003), Michalski & Peres (2005), Redford & Stearman (1993), Roldan & Simonetti (2001), Romero & Aureli (2007), Trolle (2003), Yanosky & Mercolli (1992).
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