South American coatis are part of the same animal family as racoons and share the distinctive ringed tail, which they use for balancing whilst climbing. They have brown backs and sides with pale bellies. Their front legs are strong for climbing and they have specially adapted ankle joints that allow them to rotate their feet and descend tree trunks head first!
Female South American coatis travel in groups with their offspring. These groups can contain up to 30 individuals. During the breeding season, solitary males will approach a group of females and one male will be chosen by the group. The females give birth in peak fruiting season, which is January to March in some parts of their range and October to February in others. Food availability is critical to keep the mother in good condition so she is able to care for her infants.
South American coatis are omnivorous, with the majority of their diet made up of fruit and invertebrates (insects, scorpions etc.). Some coatis will also take small mammals and reptiles. Their long, flexible nose allows them to search for food under leaves and in crevices.
As South American coatis are still widespread, their range includes a substantial amount of suitable habitat, and because they are able to live successfully in damaged forests, they are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, it is likely that numbers are declining because of habitat loss and hunting.