In the summer of 2009, Southwest Wildlife got a call about a baby white-nosed coati found on a roof in Apache Junction, Arizona. A volunteer was sent out to pick up the little one.
That first afternoon, we estimated that she was around 6 weeks old; young enough that if she was with her mother, she would still have been nursing. Her teeth were brand new and really tiny. She was ravenously hungry and thirsty, but when offered water, and cat and baby food in a bowl, she had no clue how to go about drinking or licking up the food. Finally, watermelon solved that problem; she knew just how to eat it. In fact, she couldn’t get enough. She liked grapes, tried formula from a syringe (but didn’t like it much), tasted the broccoli, and finally ate some hard-boiled egg. Offered a “pinky” mouse, she was interested, but just played with it and didn’t eat it.
Finally, her hunger and thirst satisfied, she hung on the crate door, pressed her now-round belly against the bars, and reached out with a little paw. It was pretty obvious that she’d been handled by people. If you’d scratch her belly, she’d close her eyes, bury her face behind her arms and smack her mouth. Rather quickly she’d fall asleep and wake herself up falling off the door. She just wanted a little comfort. It was a shame she wasn’t with her mother.
Because she was so friendly with people, we knew she’d never be releasable. We named her Peanut.
These days, Peanut is all grown up and living with a group of coatis. Although she’s the youngest of six coatis in her enclosure, Peanut is certainly the boss. Some of her roommates are native white-nosed coatis, like herself, and others are South American coatis, mostly former illegal pets that came to us after being confiscated by Arizona Game and Fish.
Peanut reminds us that wildlife belongs in the wild. Please contact Southwest Wildlife or a wildlife rehabilitator in your area as soon as possible if you ever come across a young wild animal.