In Panamá: The Coatímundí

Barry and I are here in Panamá and have had several experiences, including: 1) seeing the Panamá Canal – which is a huge, impressive engineering feat, 2) learning of one intriguing indigenous people, the Guna Yala, and 3) traveling with locals on a most luxurious bus, a double decker, quiet – even the infants – for the eight-hour ride between Panamá City and David (“DawVeed”), Panamá.

But what has surprised me the most so far is an animal I’ve never seen before – the coatímundí or coatí.  One is here where we are staying in David at Bambú Hostel:

A coatímundí

A coatímundí

Image from:

Coatís are found all over Central and South America – some even in Texas and New Mexico.  The story at Bambú Hostel is that a few years ago, someone staying here saw a coatí in the road, got a sheet, threw it over her, and brought her to the hostel.  She has been here ever since, which shows she is smart.  I’m calling her Anna, the coatí.  So far, she has taken the bread, mixed nuts (only a few), bananas, apples, hard-boiled egg,  and almond/coconut milk that I’ve given her.  It’s probably a wonder that she isn’t fat.  I’ve heard she loves raw warm chicken eggs too.

Anna the coatí

Anna or Andy, the coatí, at Bambu Hostel

Here’s what I’ve learned:

coatimundi (kōät´ēmŭn´dē, –mŏŏn´–) or coati (kōät´ē), omnivore of North and South America related to the raccoon. The coatimundi has a long snout, an elongated body, and a long bushy tail banded with dark rings. The coat color varies from yellowish brown or reddish brown to black. The males are significantly larger than the females and may be more than 50 in. (127 cm) long and may weigh up to 25 lb (11 kg). Active both day and night, the coati is a forest dweller and an agile tree climber. It eats lizards, birds, and fruit and uses its long mobile snout to grub for insects and roots. On the ground, its short forelegs give it a bearlike gait as it lumbers along with its tail erect. Females and their young travel in bands, but males are solitary (known as “coatimundis” ) and join the band only in the mating season. The young, typically four to six in number, are born following a gestation period of about seventy-seven days. The species Nasua narica is native to SW United States. N. nasua, the ring-tailed coatimundi, is a related species that ranges from Mexico to Peru. Coatis are often raised as pets in Mexico. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Procyonidae.

Information from:  “coatimundi.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2015. 6 Jan. 2016<>.

a coatímundí

a coatímundí

Image from:


Another traveler at Bambú Hostel, Beth, a young U.S. marine biologist who is working in Costa Rica for turtle research and preservation, said that she thought Anna might be actually an Andy since she/he is big and  alone.  So I consulted,  That source says, “The females average between 9 to 14 pounds with the males attaining weights somewhat larger about 12 to 17 pounds.”  So although Anna could just be a bit overweight (and we can guess why), this coatí is probably a male since he seems quite happy to be by himself.


Matt, originally from Chicago, is a social worker from North Carolina and a volunteer at Bambú Hostel with Andy, the coatí. Andy never really has to be alone.

The source, http://www.zoo, says,”Because of their intelligence they can become bored if not kept adequately occupied. Although the coati will remain lovable and friendly after reaching adult age they may have infrequent rebellious outbursts at between age 6 months to 1 year (similar to human teenage years).”

Places like Janda Exotics sell them as pets:


coati and me

I climbed onto a bench to be able to get close enough to Andy to give him an apple slice.


However, coatímuntí are wild animals.  It’s probably better to let one adopt you, and let it come and go as it will – as Andy, the coati, does here at the Bambú Hostel, in David, Panamá.

coatí drawing

An artist’s drawing of a coatímundí on a Casco Viejo wall in Panamá City.  The real ones aren’t this big!

Barry just came into our room to tell me that Andy knocked over the aluminum coffee urn, spilling hot liquid and coffee grinds all over the floor of the outdoor kitchen.

coati tail

Andy – look at that tail! He’s funny and entertaining. But as Greg, the owner of Bambú Hostel, says, “He is really aggravating sometimes.”

Coatís are curious, intelligent, active animals.  I’m glad I can interact with Andy here.  You may want to look for them in the wild too.

Adiós, Renée


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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

5 responses to “In Panamá: The Coatímundí”

  1. Rosita says :

    Hi, my dear! I’m replying your last ask… No, I’m not going to buy a purebred kintamani, but I really want to ADOPT a mixed breed dog from any local animal shelter here on my city 😉 I probably will adopt an adult one, because they suffer a lot and they’re pretty hard to become adopted, if compared with all those cute puppies, and, plus, I want to adopt one of the death row, so, I would save a life, because a life is a life, independently of specie, age, color, sex, nationality or size! Enjoy your travel to Panama! I recommend you to visit San Blas archipelago, who’s the paradise on the earth, where live the Guna Yala indigenous tribe, and I’m pretty sure that you’ll like those islands, because you’ll live the authentic Caribbean experience, without all those hedonistic resorts and with an idyllic nature and, plus, with authentic indigenous, who changed very little their customs and are able to make you feel in home, with some comfort. I never visited Panama, unfortunately, but I’m pretty sure that you’d like visiting this marvelous country 🙂 and, please, don’t forget to visit San Blas archipelago! 😎🏝🏖

  2. Rosita says :

    I would suggest to you visit Guna Yala indigenous tribe, at San Blas archipelago, and I’m happy that you putted it at your wish list during your stay at Panama 😍🌸 and I want to adopt an unwanted dog, more specifically a female BSD (Brazilian Street Dog), who’s a mixed breed dog, of an unrecognized breed. I would save one of the death row (believe me, it still happen at some cities, even here on Brazil), because, according to my beliefs, one life is one life, independently of its specie, and those who mistreat animals, specially a dog, who’s a holy creature, have a bad karma, so, I prefer rescuing instead of killing a poor, unwanted dog. But I’m with a doubt: would I adopt a laid-back adult or a mischief puppy? What do you’d recommend me?

  3. Rosita says :

    Hahaha no, I don’t have my own animal shelter, but, one day, maybe, I’ll create my very own…. When it don’t happen, I’ll adopt a rescued dog, probably an adult female, because I don’t have so much time to deal with puppies 🙂 one thing who’s interesting is that BSDs (Brazilian Street Dogs) usually are thin, medium-sized, with shorthaired fur, floppy ears and a long face. BSDs are sufficiently exotic to have their own pedigrees, as they did with Bahamian Potcake, a Caribbean dog breed who looks like very similar to BSD, and is found at certain Caribbean islands, although it’s only recognized as a distinct breed at Bahamas. What’s the typical appearance of Hawaiian street dogs?

    • reneeriley says :

      Hola, Rosita: Street dogs wherever they are have to be smart to survive – so that’s another of their great qualities. Your question about Hawaii street dogs is a good one. Where I live, in Kihei on Maui, a tourist and residential area, we don’t really have dogs that live on the streets. Any stray dog either gets taken in and cared for by someone or the dog is reported and taken to the Maui Humane Society where, it is hoped, he/she will be adopted. We do have lots of “poi” – mixed dogs. My son’s dog is a terrier mix, his girlfriend’s is a labrador/greyhound mix. In rural areas, there are dogs left out to roam, but most have homes and as far as I know, we don’t have a distinctive Hawaiian Street Dog. Aloha, Renée

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