The coatimundi, also known simply as a coati, is an exotic mammal native to South and Central America, and far southern North America. They're related to raccoons and have reddish-brown fur with a white "mask" around their eyes and a longer snout. They weigh 10 to 12 pounds and live at least as long as a dog. If properly raised and cared for, coatimundis make interesting and affectionate pets.
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Research coatimundis as much as you can. As with any exotic animal, you need to know as much as possible about a coati's diet, behavior and habitat before you decide it's a compatible pet for you. Exotic pets are not for impulse buyers. Many people buy them on a whim, only to realize later down the road that they simply don't have the time or resources to care for them.
Check with your local government agencies to see if coatimundis are legal to keep as pets where you live. A local health department is a good place to start. Laws governing exotic pet ownership vary from state to state. Just because you can find a coati to buy in your area doesn't mean it's legal to do so. And if you find one while traveling out of state, don't assume you can legally take it back home.
Visit nearby animal shelters and your humane society. They can keep you up to date on legal issues and assist you in your search. Since so many exotic pets end up in shelters or sanctuaries, they may suggest you adopt a coati in need of a home rather than buy one from a pet store. This is a very humane alternative, and much less costly as well.
Be wary of sellers who advertise free pets, and those who charge unreasonable prices. Coatis are expensive but they shouldn't cost a fortune, and they shouldn't be given away either. This could indicate the seller is dealing illegally, or there is something wrong with the animal.
Remember that coatis are not domesticated animals, like cats and dogs. They're essentially wild animals, even if they were bred and raised in captivity. Their instincts are very strong and they can be unpredictable or aggressive at times.
Find a veterinarian in your area who's qualified to treat your coati and administer the appropriate vaccinations. Unless you happen to be a vet yourself, this is a vital step and can't be overlooked.
Set up a large space for your coati beforehand to ease its transition to a new home. Coatis are very intelligent and curious animals who need a lot of attention and stimulation. A bored coati will become an unhealthy or possibly dangerous one. Coatis are mischievous and can be destructive at times, so have a sizable cage to keep the coati in while no one's at home. Be prepared to commit much of your free time to caring for your new pet, especially during the first few weeks.
Tips and warnings
- If you have young children, coatis are not recommended since they do have sharp claws and teeth. Be very cautious when introducing a new coati to other pets you have. Neutered male coatis tend to be much more docile than females.