The Costa Rican Coati, or Pizote in Spanish, deserves to be better known than it is. Their adorable, long white noses and distinctive thick, smooth tails set them apart visually from many other members of the raccoon family. Travelers visiting Central America, the North American southwest, or South America could potentially see real coatis for themselves in the wild. In Costa Rica, coati sightings are fun for everyone.
Coatis are diurnal by nature, which makes it even easier for travelers to potentially catch glimpses of them in the wild. They are about as large as common house cats, though it varies depending upon the individual coati or the type of coati. They are adaptable creatures that can live in a relatively wide range of natural environments, which is why it is possible to see them in both rain forests and in grasslands.
Coatis usually live up to eight years in the wild. They can live nearly twice as long in captivity, partly because they are safe from their various natural predators. They are the targets of a wide range of carnivores and omnivores in the wild, including boa constrictors, foxes, eagles, and jaguars. Coatis are just large enough for larger animals to expend the necessary energy to hunt them in the first place, but just small enough that it won’t be a fair fight. It is no surprise that coatis are popular prey animals throughout Costa Rica and elsewhere.
Coatis themselves are omnivorous. They generally eat bugs and fruit, but like most omnivores, they’re not picky by definition. Lizards and small birds are fair game for coatis, and they like to feast on eggs when an opportune moment presents itself to snatch a couple. When searching for food, they are aided by their impressive sense of smell and their very talented little paws. Coatis are well-adapted to their environments.
When conducting a search for this furry mammal, travelers should sharpen their gaze for some of its distinct features. A thin snout and a long, bushy tail are obvious signs that the right discovery has been made. However, to be absolutely sure, they are known to have pale or dark brown fur with a faint yellow or reddish hue. As a final indication, dark yellow or brown rings on the critter’s tail will give the little guy away.
The Costa Rican Coati is an extremely adaptive animal, which is why its proliferation in nature shouldn’t come as a surprise. The forest is where the coati thrives, using its powerful claws to skillfully scale rainforest trees. One will find coatis hanging upside down from tree limbs and hopping from branch to branch using their tails to balance. They are also agile creatures on the ground where they rapidly traverse the landscape.
An interesting fact of coati nature can give onlookers a rare and spectacular sight. They are known to come together into familial groups, sometimes reaching 30 members. It’s a wondrous sight to see a fleet of tails and fur whipping through the tree tops and rainforest floor. The prudent traveler will have a camera out, ready to snap a timeless moment in the lives of these marvelous animals.
As one of the many contributors to the intriguing appeal of Costa Rica, coatis play a pivotal role in the pristine wildlife of this country. They possess a distinctive look that makes them an unforgettable creature in the eyes of many. As they feast on the nuts and fruit of the Costa Rican rainforest, traverse the land accompanied by other coati family members, and show off their agility and skill between the branches of the Costa Rican rainforest, they give travelers an experience they will cherish for a lifetime.