Video: Animal Magic explores coatis

Welcome to Animal Magic – a series of fortnightly columns where we take an in-depth look at some of Tilgate Nature Centre’s popular, and less well-known animal residents.

This week we delve into the origins of one of our newest residents – Diago the ring tailed coati.

Coatis / Animal Magic at Tilgate Nature Centre (Pic by Jon Rigby) PPP-140624-112819003

Coatis / Animal Magic at Tilgate Nature Centre (Pic by Jon Rigby) PPP-140624-112819003

Ring-tailed coati

(Nasua nasua)

From trees to beaches

Coatis are natives of South America and can be found in most areas of the continent – particularly favouring forested areas.

They are fantastic climbers and are often seen coming down head first by rotating their ankles so their claws are angled backwards and act like breaks.

When not scaling trees they are equally happy foraging on the ground, even heading for the beaches to hunt for crabs!

Diverse diet, superb senses

As omnivores coatis will eat just about anything. This is greatly helped by their long snout and excellent sense of smell which enables them to find food on the leafy forest floor.

They also use their long front claws to rip apart wood and dig to find juicy grubs.

Like their racoon relatives, coatis are intelligent and curious and often raid houses and gardens for food.

Solitary males and sociable females

While female coatis are happy to live in groups, males prefer to live by themselves.

This solitary behaviour, along with the males’ much larger size, led them to be mistakenly believed to be different species with the males being called coatimundi.

As well as living together, females will often give birth at around the same time. Each builds her own nest where babies stay for several weeks.

Once the babies are older and more mobile the group works together to balance foraging and motherhood by gathering the babies into a crèche to allow most of the mothers to go and forage without having to worry about their young.


Our coati is a three year old male called Diago. We were pleased to welcome him from Knockhatch Adventure Park earlier this year and he has quickly settled into his new home.

Diago eats anything from insects and mice to seeds and fruit but his favourite food is eggs which he skilfully (but carefully) pierces with his strong teeth before licking out the contents.

Thanks to his inquisitive nature, Diago is great to work with and has been fairly easy to train.

This really helps us to complete his checks, for example he will stand still on our scales so we can easily monitor his weight and he is good at letting us check his claws and give him worming treatment.

The sun is here and there are plenty of newcomers and old favourites to visit – we hope to see you soon! W

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