Ring-tailed coati (Nasua nasua)

ring-tailed coati

These animals can be found next to the large walkthrough aviary at Fur Feathers and Scales

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head to body: 43-58cm. Tail length: 42-55cm. Males tend to be bigger than females

Weight 3.5-6kg

Gestation 2 ½ months

Young 1-7 (3-4 is more common)

Life span 7-8 years in the wild, up to 17 years in captivity

What do I eat?

Ring-tailed coatis have a varied diet and will eat plants and smaller animals. These animals will go in search of fruits, invertebrates (such as insects, millipedes, centipedes, spiders, scorpions and crabs) and even been seen eating smaller animals (such as rodents and small lizards) and even carrion (dead animals).

Coatis will normally look for food during the day. They will search up in trees and on the forest floor for something to eat, and will use their flexible nose to sniff through leaf litter and in to crevices to find food.

Where do I live?

Ring-tailed coatis are found in South America, across many different countries from Colombia and Venezuela down to Uruguay and Northern Argentina.

These animals are found in forest habitats such as deciduous forests (the trees lose leaves seasonally), evergreen forests (leaves stay on the trees all year), dry scrub forest, grassland and savannah areas.


Male coatis tend to live on their own for most of their lives, whereas females and young males will live together in groups of up to 30 individuals. During breeding season (October to February) a single breeding male mixes in with a group of females.

When a female is close to giving birth, she will leave her group and build a nest within a tree where she will give birth to 1-7 young (but 3-4 is more common). Young ring-tailed coatis are born with their eyes closed, which will open by 10 days old. They will stand up at around 19 days old, walk around by 24 days and are able to climb soon after. After 5 to 6 weeks the female and her young will return to live with her group.


Natural predators of ring-tailed coatis include jaguars, pumas, ocelots and jaguarondi.

To stay safe, females and their young stay together and will make lots of different noises to keep in touch with each other. If they spot a threat, then they will give out an alarm call, which will alert the rest of the group. One member of the group will climb halfway up a tree to look out to where the threat is then get down to the forest floor and run to safety.


Ring-tailed coatis have faced threats in the past such as loss of habitat and being hunted for food. They have also been caught to be sold as pets in the illegal pet trade.

These animals are widespread across their range and are common in many protected areas. They have even been introduced to Robinson Crusoe, which is one of the Juan Fernández Islands of Chile, where they have grown in number and have caused damage to the native plants found there.

Did you know?

Coati is pronounced "co-ahh-tee".

The ring-tailed coati is also known as the South American coati.

The name ‘coati’ comes from native Tupian Indian words ‘cua’ which means ‘belt’ and ‘tim’ which is ‘nose’. This refers to the way coatis will tuck their nose towards their stomach when they sleep.

Coatis can travel up to 2km a day just looking for food!

Studies on wild coatis have shown that they are an important seed disperser in their habitat. When these animals eat fruit, the seeds pass through them and are left inside the droppings of the coati in different areas in its range.


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