I was leaving a sandwich joint this past Wednesday. I was at the corner of Broadway and Craycroft road when I had to double take at what I was seeing…
Jogging across the road, coming right at me was a medium sized dog… no, wait, it was the wrong dimensions to be a dog. It could not be a cat, cats are not that big and they don’t run with their striped tails stuck up in the air like this dude was doing. Then I got a profile, and I immediately recognized the elongated snout and coloration. It was a coatimundi.
I have only seen a few in captivity, never one making its way through a parking lot, but that is exactly what it was! It must have followed a wash, gotten into some sewer pipes up in the foothills and ended up in the middle of town, but there it was.
Coatimundis are members of the raccoon family and as such are very capable at manipulating things that other “cats” or rodents would normally leave alone. Their nimble hands allow them, if they set their mind to it, to open locks, doors, garbage cans in search of food. Fortunately they spend most of their time in the desert, foraging for amphibians and snakes, using their elongated snout to move aside rocks and pieces of wood.
When we are asked to get involved with a coati, we always live trap and release the animal back into the desert, far away from the customer’s home. Coatis are not a traditional pest management issue, and should be treated with care and respect.
Due to its size, this was likely a 2-3 year-old male who had broken off from his group and was simply looking for a new place to call home. I hope he found one.