By Leah Duran / Photo by Bruce D. Taubert
Picture a raccoon with a slimmer body and a longer tail and a snout. Add white fur around the eyes and nose, and you have the white-nosed coatimundi, the only species of this raccoon relative found in the United States. Rare in the Southwest, coatimundis are more common in Central and South America.
In Arizona, coatimundis inhabit the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, with ranges including the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix and the Huachuca Mountains southeast of Tucson. Coatimundis sleep in trees and prefer elevations of 4,500 to 7,500 feet, but they occasionally travel to lower deserts in winter. Look for them while strolling pine-oak woodlands or sycamore-studded canyons.
Coatimundis, like humans, are social creatures. Females and young travel in groups of as many as 30 individuals for protection from mountain lions and male coatimundis, which can be twice the size of females. Females leave the group each spring to give birth before rejoining several weeks later with up to six offspring.