Arizona’s wildlife species are as varied as the habitats they call home. From the low cactus studded flats of the Sonoran Desert to the highest alpine peaks, the diversity of Arizona wildlife may surprise you. For example, have you ever heard of a Coatimundi? Have you ever seen one? You might.
Coati’s, as they are nicknamed, are often mistakenly referred to as desert monkeys because of their long tails and propensity for trees. But no, they are not monkeys, but in fact, are closely related to a raccoon. They are also nicknamed “trash badgers.”
The name “coatimundi” comes from the Tupian languages of Brazil, where it means “lone coati”. The social animals are great fun to watch and can be seen in several of the state parks across Arizona. Groups of up to thirty individuals have been seen. They typically contain young animals and females. Male coatimundi live a more solitary life and join the groups closer to breeding season.
Females are about the size of a housecat. Males can be twice as large. They have thick, luxurious fur and long, upturned snouts. Their tails are long and stick straight up in the air, so even if you can’t see the coati’s low-slung body moving through the grass, you might see the tip of its tail poking up.
Coati’s have been seen at Kartchner Caverns, Catalina, Patagonia, and Tonto Natural Bridge State Parks. Their population is currently expanding rapidly.
But don’t even think about adopting one. “Coatis are wildlife and should not be kept as pets,” says Marco Wendt, wildlife ambassador at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “They have a lifelong curiosity, agility and strength, and have been likened to keeping a super smart toddler who never grows up.”
Watch the one minute video below for a better understanding of these creatures.