a coatimundi! Picture 1
and Picture 2
Background: Both my parents are in failing health, with my mom in a nursing home. My sis and I take turns coming to Clovis to help Dad with shopping / cleaning / visiting Mom, etc.* This is my weekend.
Their house is amid farmland -- scattered clusters of houses (and more all the time) -- but lots of cattle pasture and/or cropland all around. This is especially true if I go to the nursing home on the roads through the farmland... which I prefer because [a] no traffic, [b] 1.7 miles shorter route, and [c] the main road is torn up for repaving. And I like the glimpses of nature -- hawk sitting on a fencepost (yesterday), ducks in the playa lake formed by recent rains (day before), and even a herd of Dutch belted cows
if their grazing brings them close to the road.
(I was amazed that so many cows in the herd had a white band around their middle; figured the rancher had a bull that consistently passed on the gene. The rancher saw me taking pics one day; stopped to tell me about them, which is how I know it's an actual breed, and not an unusual color variation.)
ANYway, I was traveling toward the nursing home to help Mom with lunch, driving on a narrow paved road with open fields on each side. I saw a big lump in the road ahead of me and slowed down; wasn't sure if it was an animal or a piece of tire from someone's blowout. (I was betting on the latter; it was an amorphous blob, and didn't resemble any kind of animal shape I know.) But it moved, scuttling quickly into the weeds at the side of the road. I had a fleeting impression of hunched back, long nose, long hair and bushy tail. It was about the size of a good-sized cat, and I mentally tagged it as a "small, shorter-nosed, less-bushy-tailed anteater-type thing" to lock it in my memory and help me look it up.
As soon as I got to the nursing home I pulled out my iPad (always with me because I use it as an eReader) and did a search for "New Mexico mammals" while fielding others' suggestions. (I'm familiar with coyote, fox, badger, raccoon, skunk, jackrabbit, weasel, and bobcat; it wasn't any of them.) When I saw the coati's picture, I thought, "Bingo!" Despite the very
fleeting glimpse I caught of it, that was the only animal that even came close to a possibility.
I knew about coatis (Captain Kangaroo introduced us to them when I was a wee tyke), but I thought they were only found in Central America and Mexico and didn't come this far north. But according to the internet, they can also be found in southern New Mexico and Arizona, so the possibility was strengthened. Then when I went to help Mom with supper, I showed the picture to some of the staff. Patricia, the lady who brings round the medicine each evening, said that a tech she knows saw one in the parking lot a few months ago (about 1-1/2 miles from where I saw the animal) and took a picture with his cellphone; she recognized it right away.
So, confirmation -- there are at least a few coatimundis living in, near, or around Clovis, New Mexico, and I got a glimpse of one. Woot!
Here's a video of a woman feeding a group of coatis
in Mexico. Gotta say, I'd be a little intimidated -- they practically mobbed her, and they are wild animals, after all. But they're cute, and they make a funny bird-twittering sound; not like a mammal at all.
Gotta say -- I am psyched
about seeing this little guy, brief as it was. Does me no good at all, doesn't change anything... but this evening, the world is a more amazing place.
(*Which is why I haven't been very active here lately; the little spare time I have, I immerse myself in a fanfic security-blanket. C'est la vie; as Gibbs says, you do what you have to for family.)