Pet Coatimundi

What to Expect With a Pet South American Raccoon

Coati on a branch in the jungle
Getty Images/Frans Lanting

Coatis or coatimundi, specifically white-nosed coatis (Nasua narica) and South American coatis (Nasua nasua), are South American raccoons. In English, they are also called hog-nosed coons. They are related to both kinkajous and North American raccoons.

Coatis are omnivores with a lot of energy and, just like their North American cousins, they forage for food in the wild. Some people opt to care for them as pets but these wild animals are not ideal for most households. Learn more about coatis especially if you are considering one as a pet.

Coatimundi Characteristics

Coatis can weigh up to 18 pounds when they are full grown. Males are solitary in the wild and are usually larger than females, which live in groups.

Known for their inquisitive personalities, these South American raccoons are unique. Unlike North American raccoons, they are diurnal and do their activities during the day.

They have a varied diet, can live about 14 years, and act like permanent toddlers. If coatis aren't bottle raised at a young age and continually socialized, they can become violent and dangerous, much like a pet primate. If you want to increase your chances of having a loving and enjoyable pet, be sure to provide your coati with plenty of enrichment, exercise, and attention.

Children should not be allowed to play with coatis. A coati can bite, especially if they don't want you to do something, so this type of animal is not considered a good pet for most people.

Coatis also climb and swim very well. They are high energy animals that need a lot of space, especially when they are young, so you will need a large and secure enclosure to house them.

Feeding Pet Coatimundi

Pet coati have a strict diet. In order for your coati to stay healthy and live long, you will need to adhere to a steady plan of measured dietary ratios of fruits to vegetables to proteins and carbohydrates:

Treats can include insects such as gut-loaded crickets and mealworms, cereal, or crackers. Prickly pear fruits are a favorite of coatis and can be used as a training reward.

Be sure to stay away from sweet or salty foods when treating your coati. Diseases related to poor diets and unwanted behaviors such as food aggression or being picky can develop if you spoil your coati with these foods.

When feeding coatis you should always scatter the food about their enclosure and hide it inside and under objects to encourage a natural foraging behavior.

Medical Care and Sterilization

An exotics vet would be needed to treat your coati. Vets rarely treat coatis, but when they do, common medical complaints are rectal prolapses from straining to defecate due to parasites or diarrhea. Malnutrition is also seen due to an improper diet. And, if multiple coatis are housed together, there may be injuries from fighting.

There are no licensed vaccines for coatis but many veterinarians will use dog or cat vaccines.

Male coatis can become very aggressive once they are sexually mature. Neutering can be performed by an exotics veterinarian and is recommended before the coati reaches 6 months of age. Females can become aggressive when they are in heat, so spaying them is recommended for a more even-tempered coati.

Although declawing and tooth removal may seem like good options for safeguarding your family against bites and scratches, it is very unnatural and not appropriate to do to any animal, including a coati. Surgical interventions like these are controversial issues. If you are not prepared for the sharp teeth and claws of a coati, then that is a good sign that you should not have one as a pet.