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These sociable tree-climbers are of a mischievous nature and have a love for digging.
Coatis are classed as ‘least concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’), but the IUCN estimates that some Brown-nosed Coati populations in the wild are decreasing. Threats to these populations include habitat loss and illegal poaching.
Meeting the coatis at Melbourne Zoo is more than just a fascinating experience. A visit to Melbourne Zoo helps to raise much needed funds, contributing to the care and upkeep of animals like the coati. Visiting the zoo also supports Zoos Victoria in Fighting Extinction, both here and abroad.
Coatis belong to the larger raccoon family, which comprises 18 species, all native to the Americas. The Brown-nosed Coati is found across South America in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Coatis are omnivorous and are often seen feeding on invertebrates, fruits, small vertebrates (such as lizards and rodents) and eggs. Although coatis are skilled climbers, using their long tails as balancing rods, most foraging is conducted on the ground where they dig among the leaf litter, exposing food.
Male coatis have solitary lives, while the females live in social groups. During the breeding season a dominant male of the area will convince the females to accept him by grooming them. Once the breeding season ends he is driven away by the group, leaving the females to raise the young.
A new mother will typically keep her kittens isolated in her nest for 6 to 10 weeks before rejoining the band. Upon returning to the group, all the adult females cooperate in looking after the young. While mother is away searching for food, the other females will keep an eye on her kittens, providing protection from predators.