Coatis, Raccoons, and Ringtails

A brown coati walks in a natural setting.

NPS photo

White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica)

The coatimundi, or coati, is a member of the raccoon family found from Arizona to South America. It has a long snout with a flexible nose which it uses to root in the soil for grubs and other invertebrates. They can flip over rocks in search of snakes and lizards or use excellent climbing skills to forage for nuts, berries, or bird eggs in trees. Sonoran Desert coatis are most often found in oak- and sycamore-lined canyons, or in lower elevation riparian areas in winter. They are most active during the morning and late afternoon (diurnal). They spend the night in trees or caves. Female coati and their young live in bands and are joined by males during mating season.

A raccoon walking in a natural setting and illuminated by a light.
Raccoon captured by an NPS wildlife camera

NPS photo

Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Though not usually considered a desert animal, the raccoon can be found in the Sonoran Desert as long as it has a source of permanent water nearby. They adapt well to life near humans and can be found in suburbs and developments often digging through trashcans. In wild habitats, most of their food is found in and along ponds, rivers, and streams.

Total length: 24 - 37in (60 –95cm)

Weight: 12-30lbs (5.4 - 13.6kg)

Diet: Fish, frogs, aquatic insects, invertebrates, birds, eggs, mice, carrion, fruit, nuts, and grains

A ringtail in a natural setting looking toward the camera.

NPS photo

Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus)

The ringtail, sometimes called the ringtail cat or miner’s cat, is actually a member of the raccoon family. The small, squirrel-sized ringtail is Arizona’s state mammal. Though fairly common at Saguaro National Park, they are secretive and rarely show themselves. They live in rocky canyons and den in caves, rocky crevices, hollow trees, and sometimes buildings. They are great leapers and climbers and use their long, banded tails for balance. They also have semi-retractable claws and can climb headfirst down cliffs and trees.

Total length: 24 - 32in (61.6 - 81.1cm)

Weight: 1.5 - 2.5lbs (870 - 1100g)

Diet: Rodents, fruit, birds, snakes, lizards, and invertebrates

Last updated: June 17, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730


520 733-5153

Contact Us