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White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Physical Characteristics

Body measurements

Attribute White-nosed coati N. n. nelsoni ("dwarf coati")
Weight Typically 3.5 to 5.6, up to 7 kg
(7.7 to 12, up to 15 lb)*
Head-body length 430 to 660 mm (17 to 26 in) 416 to 437 mm (16 to 17 in)
Tail Length 420 to 680 mm (17 to 27 in) 328 to 348 mm (13 to 14 in)


*Note: Males weigh, on average, 1/3 more than females. (Gompper 1996).

Data sources:
Total length, tail length: Gompper (1995)
Weight: Leopold (1959), Risser (1963), Kays (2009a)

General Appearance


  • Shoulders muscular (Krinsley 1989; Kays 2009a)
    • Capable climbers and diggers
    • Push rocks aside easily

Head and mouth

  • Long snout, tapered and flexible (Goodwin 1934; Leopold 1959; Gompper 1995)
    • Extends past lower lip
    • Use to investigate loose dirt and leaf litter while foraging (Krinsley 1989)
  • Ears short and round (Goodwin 1934; Leopold 1959; Gompper 1995)
  • Tongue long and narrow (Gompper 1995)

Feet and claws

  • Front claws long and slightly curved (Goodwin 1934; Leopold 1959)
    • Used to dig, shred bark, tear open fruits, hold down larger prey (McClearn 1992a)
    • Able to grasp objects but little fine motor control (unlike forepaw digits of raccoons) (McClearn 1992a)
  • Hind claws shorter and hooked (Leopold 1959)


  • Long and slender (Kaufmann 1983; Krinsley 1989; Gompper 1995)
    • Equal in length to head and body
    • Often held vertically or at 45° downward angle while foraging
  • Used mainly for balance (Gompper 1995)
    • Not prehensile, though provides some grip of trees during steep descents


  • Wide color variation across range (Gompper 1995)
    • Coat camouflages with shady forest habitat (Hass and Valenzuela 2002)
  • Body typically light buff to reddish to dark brown, with yellow or silver hues (Goodwin 1934; Risser 1963; Kaufmann et al. 1976; Kaufmann 1983; Gompper 1995)
    • Neck and shoulders yellow to white
    • Muzzle, chin, and throat whitish
    • Eyes bordered by light-colored eye rings
    • Underparts yellowish to dark brown
    • Feet blackish
  • Muzzle has white patch (Goodwin 1934; Gompper 1995)
    • Distinguishes white-nosed coati from other coati species
  • Newborns (Kaufmann 1962)
    • Darker in color than adults
    • Rings on tail more distinct

Sexual Dimorphism


  • Males about 30% heavier than females (Risser 1963; Gompper 1996; Valenzuela 1998; McColgin et al. 2018)



Distinctive Snout

Face of white-nosed coati

The white-nosed coati has a distinctive long, tapered, flexible snout.

Coatis use their nose to sniff through leaf litter for fallen fruits and invertebrates.

Image credit: © Thomas Milne / Flickr. Some rights reserved; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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