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Saturday, April 30, 2005


Coatimundi - Nelly

The pictures below are of Chi and pet coatimundi, Nelly. Coatimundis are animals in the racoon family. They have very long, sharp claws and fangs. Learning to live with a coati usually means a period of many bites and emergency room visits. Injections of antibiotics are usually necessary unless you've bled a lot - which you frequently will. These are wild animals that are not really pet material. But Nelly was an orphaned baby not more that five inches long (not including tail) when she was brought to me. She had fallen from a tree and was grabbed by a dog. A child standing nearby rescued her from the dog. The child, naturally, wanted to keep this tiny adorable little creature as a pet, but his father (knowing the dangers) refused to allow it. So . . .

Then the time came for releasing her back to the wild. That's when I discovered that female coatis live in large family groups. An established group will not accept an outsider. By then I had become emotionally attached to her and refused to simply turn her loose to be killed by others or by hunters with guns. I wound up having a large cage made for her in which she has her own hammock (I make them for her so that we can put a fresh hammock in whenever necessary), a tree to climb, a shelf to sit on for grooming and playing her music box, lots of toys, a careful diet of fruits, eggs, chicken, insects, and an occasional slice of whole wheat bread or pasta with tomato sauce. She has a "blanky" she like to cuddle with and gets a cloth saturated with perfume every day so that she can perfume her tail. She loves to do this.

Coatis are very intelligent and they have hand-like front paws. Add this to curiosity and you get an animal that can climb everywhere, open every cupboard and drawer, figure out how to undo locks, open boxes and packages, and drive you crazy. Still, I would let her have the run of the house if I did not have Peter in the house, too. A coati can easily kill several large dogs at once, so killing a tiny miniature pincher would be easy for her. And Peter is jealous. He might try to attack her to get her away from me. So Nelly is in the cage when Peter is in the house and at night, and when Peter is outside, Nelly gets to come out as long as I'm there to supervise.

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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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