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Overview

Brief Summary

Greater grison (Galictis vittata)

The greater grison is a species of mustelid native to South and Central America, ranging from eastern and southern Mexico south to central Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina. It inhabits various habitats from tropical evergreen, scrub and rain forests to grasslands, savannas, cerrado and cultivated areas, such as plantations and rice paddies, usually near rivers and streams, but not in great numbers (7). It usually lives at elevations below 500 m, but may occur as high as 2,000 m in some parts of the Bolivian Andes [2,6]. In some regions, it may occur found in cultivated areas, .

The grison is a slender animal with a long, muscular body, short legs, a long neck, and a short, bushy tail. The fur is long and soft. The ears are very small and the small, black eyes are small and blackThe grison's eyeshine is a bright blue-green color. The broad feet have very long claws. It resembles the closely related lesser grison, but is larger, with a head-body length of 45-60 cm, a tail length of 14-20 cm and a weight of 1-3.8 kg in the wld, although captives may be larger (2). The upper part of the body is grizzled grey. The underbody, including the legs and feet, are black. The head has a grizzled grey forehead and a black face and neck. A white stripe runs from the forehead over the ears and to the shoulders. The back, flanks, top of the head and the tail are grizzled grey; the rest of the body is much darker, usually solid black. A narrow whitish stripe separates the darker and lighter fur on the head and shoulder, but not further back, where the two colours may, in some individuals, blur into one another. The tail is covered with bushy hair similar in colour to that on the back. The flattened, broad head has short, rounded ears and dark brown to black eyes. The muscular legs have 5 webbed toes, each ending in a sharp, curved claw [2].

The grison is primarily terrestrial, but can climb trees and swim well. It is mostly diurnal and only occasionally active at night [4]. It lives live alone or in pairs, with home ranges of at least 4.2 sq km (1.6 sq mi), and a very low population density, so it is rarely encountered in the wild. It spends the night sleeping in crevices in rocks, cavities in hollow logs or beneath tree roots or in abandoned burrows dug by armadillos and other animals [4]. The anal scent glands secrete a yellowish or greenish musk. It is not especially noxious compared with that of other species, but can be sprayed at attackers and is used to mark the grison's territory [2]. The grison unistic specieshas been said to respond to threats with a series of grunts, rising in intensity and frequency to until they become rapid barks, and finally a single loud scream with their teeth bared.[2]<

The grison is a very opportunistic species, eating whatever is available. The diet includes chinchillas, viscachas, agoutis, mice and other small mammals, birds and their eggs, lizards, amphibians and fruits (5,6). While hunting, it moves in a zigzag pattern, making short bounds and occasionally stopping to look around with its head raised while it sniffs the air. When moving more cautiously, it presses its body close to the ground in a snake-like movement. The grison is polygynous. Litters of two (up to four) young are born from March-October, after a gestation period of 39-40 days. Newborn young weigh under 50 g (1.8 oz), are initially blind, but have a short coat of hair bearing the adult pattern. The eyes open after 2 weeks, and the young begin eating solid food at 3 weeks, reaching adult size in 4 months [4]. Grisons may live 10.5-13 years in captivity [2,8].


The IUCN Red List Assessment for the greater grison is 'Least Concern', due to its large range. The grison is rare with a low density throughout its range (9,11). It is considered endangered in Costa Rica(10) and is listed on CITES Appendix III (In Costa Rica, it is considered endangered (Timm et al. 1989) and is listed on CITES Appendix III (Fuller et al. 1987). In Belize it is protected by the Wildlife Protection Act, and in Nicaragua it is protected from hunting (13). In Belize it is protected by the Wildlife Protection Ac, and in Nicaragua it is protected from hunting (13). Some subspecies are considered uncommon or rare (10). The Population Trend is Stable. The species tolerates some disturbance, but hunting shows negative effects (12). In some parts of their range, males are trapped for their body parts and they are also sold as pets (7). Learn more about this article

The grison has been known to cause damage to domestic animals.



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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

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The grison is tamed easily. The grison is helpful in controlling rodent infestations. They are also used by man to hunt chinchillas.



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There are four living and one fossil subspecies [3]:

Galictis vittata vittata - northern South America

Galictis vittata andina - Peru and Bolivia

Galictis vittata brasiliensis - Brazil

Galictis vittata canaster - Central America and southern Mexico

•† Galictis vittata fossilis - Pleistocene Brazil[2]. xx
  • 1. Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). Galictis vittata. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • 2. Yensen, E. & Tarifa, T. (2003). "Galictis vittata". Mammalian Species: Number 727: pp. 1–8. doi:10.1644/727.
  • 3. Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  • 4. Wilson, D.E. & Mittermeier, R.A., ed. (2009). Handbook of the Mammals of the World, Volume 1: Carnivora. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 636–637. ISBN 978-84-96553-49-1.
  • 5. Bisbal, F.J. (1986). "Food habits of some Neotropical carnivores in Venezuela (Mammalia, Carnivora)". Mammalia 50 (3): 329–340.
  • 6. Nowak, R. M. (2005). Walker’s Carnivores of the world. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA and London, UK.
  • 7. Rosa, C. L., de la and C.C. Nocke (2000). A Guide to the Carnivores of Central America: Natural History, Ecology, and Conservation. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX, USA.
  • 8. Weigl, Richard (2005). Longevity of Mammals in Captivity; from the Living Collections of the World. Kleine Senckenberg-Reihe 48: Stuttgart.
  • 9. Arita, H., J. Robinson, K. Redford (1990). Rarity in Neotropical Forest Mammals and Its Ecological Correlates. Conservation Biology, 4/2: 181-192.
  • 10. Timm, R., D. Wilson, B. Clauson, R. LaVal, C. Vaughan (1989). Mammals of the La Selva-Braulio Carrillo Complex, Costa Rica. North American Fauna, 75: 1-162.
  • 11. Eisenberg, J. F., M.A. O’Connell, M. A. and P.V. August (1979). Density, productivity, and distribution of mammals in two Venezuelan habitats. In: J. F. Eisenberg (ed.), Vertebrate Ecology in the Northern Neotropics, pp. 187-207. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.
  • 12. Bisbal, F. (1993). Impacto humano sobre los carnivoros de Venezuela. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment, 28/3: 145-156.
  • 13. Fuller, K. S., B. Swift, B, A. Jorgenson, A. Brautigam and A.L. Gaski (1987). Latin American wildlife trade laws. Second edition, with 1987 update. World Wildlife Fund, Washington, DC, USA.
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Distribution

Greater grisons are native to Neotropical regions including Central and South America. They have been documented as far north as Mexico and as far south as Argentina. The total geographic range for this species is estimated at 13,083,600 km2, although their population density is low within that range. Their range may overlap with their smaller relative, lesser grisons (Galictis cuja).

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

  • Arita, H., J. Robinson, K. Redford. 1990. Rarity in Neotropical Forest Mammals and Its Ecological Correlates. Conservation Biology, 4/2: 181-192.
  • Bisbal E., F. 1986. Food habits of some Neotropical carnivores in Venezuela (Mammalia, Carnivora). Mammalia, 50/3: 329-339.
  • Bisbal, F. 1993. Impacto humano sobre los carnivoros de Venezuela. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment, 28/3: 145-156.
  • Kays, R. 1996. Comments on the behavior of a grison (Galictis vittata) hunting an agouti (Dasyprocta punctata). Small Carnivore Conservation, 15: 5.
  • Nehring, A. 1886. Ueber die Artberechtigung des grossen Grison (Galictis crassidens NEHRING resp. G. Allamandi BELL) neben dem kleinen Grison (G. vittata BELL). Gesellschaft naturforschender Freunde, 4: 55.
  • Ramirez-Pulido, J., N. Gonzalez-Ruiz, H. Genoways. 2005. Carnivores from the Mexican State of Puebla: Distribution, Taxonomy, and Conservation. Mastazoologia Neotropical, 12/1: 37-52.
  • Timm, R., D. Wilson, B. Clauson, R. LaVal, C. Vaughan. 1989. Mammals of the La Selva-Braulio Carrillo Complex, Costa Rica. North American Fauna, 75: 1-162.
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Range Description

Galictis vittata occurs at lower elevations from eastern Mexico south throughout Central America into South America as far south as Bolivia, northern Argentina, and Santa Catarina, Brazil. The geographic range of G. vittata was estimated at 13,083,600 km2 (Arita et al., 1990).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Greater grisons are often described as large weasels. They have long, slim bodies, with short legs and a short, long-haired tail. Their toes have pearlescent blue claws and are padded and partially webbed along approximately three quarters of their length. Galictis vittata has a small, flat head with small, whitish, relatively broad, rounded ears and brown or black eyes that reflect blue light in the dark. Most striking of all is the coloration of their fur, which itself is fairly coarse, with a softer undercoat. Their dorsum is grey and separated from their black or grizzled under-parts by a light-colored, half-inch wide stripe running across their forehead and down the sides of either shoulder. Greater grisons are similar in appearance to their close relative, lesser grisons, but can be distinguished from the latter based on their larger size and their white or grey-tipped dorsal guard hairs, compared to the buff yellow-tipped dorsal guard hairs of lesser grisons. Their body length, including their tail, ranges from 60 to 76 cm, with weight records ranging from 1.4 to 3.8 kg. Female greater grisons tend to be slightly smaller and more slender than males. One team of researchers recorded a length of 68.58 cm for their captive male grison, compared to 60.96 cm for their captive female. Similarly, the captive male had an average mass of 3.3 kg compared to 1.8 kg for the female, a difference of 1.5 kg. As is typical of most mustelid species, males have a baculum. Both males and females have anal glands on either side of their anus. The dental formula for this species is I3/3 + C1/1 + P3/3 + M1/2, giving Galictis vittata a total of 34 teeth.

Range mass: 1.4 to 3.8 kg.

Range length: 600 to 760 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

  • Dalquest, W., J. Roberts. 1951. Behavior of Young Grisons in Captivity. American Midland Naturalist, 46/2: 359-366.
  • Husson, A. 1978. The Mammals of Suriname. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill.
  • Mondolfi, E. 1987. Baculum of the Lesser Andean coati, Nasuella olivacea (Gray), and of the Larger grison, Galictis vittata (Schreber). Fieldiana: Zoology, 39: 447-445.
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Ecology

Habitat

Greater grisons occupy a wide variety of terrestrial habitats, though they are generally found near streams, rivers or wetlands. Much of their time is spent in closed habitats including deciduous, rain, tropical or dry forest and shrub woodland. They have also been observed in open savanna, as well as cultivated areas such as plantations, cane fields or partially flooded rice fields. Galictis vittata occurs at elevations as high as 1,500 m above sea level, though it is usually found at lower elevations, most often below 500 m.

Range elevation: 500 - 1500 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

  • Kaufmann, J., A. Kaufmann. 1965. Observations of the Behavior of Tayras and Grison. Zeitschrift fuer Saugetierkunde, 30: 146-155.
  • Leopold, A. 1972. Wildlife of Mexico. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.
  • Sunquist, M., F. Sunquist, D. Daneke. 1989. Advances in Neotropical Mammology. Gainesville, Florida, United States of America: Sandhill Crane Press.
  • Yensen, E., T. Tarifa. 2003. Galictis vittata. Mammalian Species, 727: 1-8.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species occurs in a wide range from tropical forests, from sea level to 1,200 meters (Nowak, 2005), to grasslands and even cultivated areas, although not in great numbers (De la Rosa and Nocke, 2000). This is a very opportunistic species, eating whatever is available. The diet includes small mammals, birds and their eggs, lizards, amphibians and fruits (Nowak, 2005).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Trophic Strategy

Greater grisons are carnivores, though they are also quite opportunistic and will eat some plant matter, such as bananas, if offered. In the wild, their prey of choice depends on their specific locale, but in general, they hunt primarily mammals, such as agoutis and opossums. The stomachs contents of wild grisons have also been found to contain amphibians, invertebrates, reptiles, and birds. Grisons have been observed hunting in pairs as well as alone. When attacking prey, greater grisons aim for the back of the head or neck of their prey and bite down hard to kill. In captivity, grisons have been observed holding food items with their forepaws, although they do not appear to use their feet to actually manipulate food items.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

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Associations

The primary role that greater grisons fill in their ecosystem is that of a predator, namely, preying on small terrestrial vertebrates. In addition, greater grisons may act as vectors for various diseases. Like many carnivores, they are susceptible to canine distemper. Grisons may also contract a fungus, Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, in their lungs. They are hosts to ticks, such as Amblyomma ovale and Amblyomma aureolatum and are susceptible to Trypanosoma cruzi.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Keymer, I., H. Epps. 1969. Canine Distemper in the Family Mustelidae. The Veterinary Record, 85/7: 204-205.
  • Labruna, M., R. Jorge, D. Sana, A. Jacomo, C. Kashivakura, M. Furtado, C. Ferro, S. Perez, L. Silveira, T. Santos Jr., S. Marques, R. Morato, A. Nava, C. Adania, R. Teixeira, A. Gomez, V. Conforti, F. Azevedo, C. Prada, J. Silva, A. Batista, M. Marvulo, R. Morato, C. Alho, A. Pinter, P. Ferreira, F. Ferreira, D. Barros-Battesti. 2005. Ticks (Acari: Ixodida) on wild carnivores in Brazil. Experimental and Applied Acarology, 36: 149-163.
  • Lisboa, C., S. Xavier, H. Herrera, A. Jansen. 2009. The ecology of the Trypanosoma cruzi transmission cycle: Dispersion of zymodeme 3 (Z3) in wild hosts from Brazilian biomes. Veterinary Parasitology, 165: 19-24.
  • Richini-Pereira, V., S. Bosco, J. Griese, R. Theodoro, S. Macoris, R. Da Silva, L. Barrozo, P. Tavares, R. Zancope-Oliveira, E. Bagali. 2008. Molecular detection of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis in road-killed wild animals. Medical Mycology, 46: 35-40.
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Information regarding predators of this species is not available.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Greater grisons communicate a number of ways, though based on observations in the field; it would seem that they have a greater reliance on olfaction than on vision. They engage in scent marking, by brushing their musk-coated tails over surfaces. Grisons also have a wide variety of vocalizations, including: snorting when alarmed or upset, purring when stroked, panting when moving from place to place, squealing during play and barking during aggressive displays.

Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

The lifespan of Galictis vittata has not been recorded for wild populations; although, there has been a published description of a captive grison still living at ten years and six months of age.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
10.5 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
10.5 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 12.5 years (captivity) Observations: One wild born specimen was 12-13 years old when it died in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Information on the mating system of greater grisons is lacking; however, their close relative, Galictis cuja, may potentially be monogamous.

Mating System: monogamous

The birth of their offspring has been recorded in every month between March and October, excluding April and July. Gestation is about 39 days, with an average of one offspring per litter and a maximum of four. Young are born quite helpless, with closed eyes and weigh less than 50 g, although their hair is short, the characteristic coat pattern is already evident. Around one week of age, offspring open their eyes and by two weeks, they are able to eat meat successfully, although offspring are not completely weaned until about three and a half weeks of age. Greater grisons are fully grown at four months of age, around the same time that the testes descend in males.

Range number of offspring: 2 to 4.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Average gestation period: 39 days.

Average weaning age: 3.5 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Average gestation period: 40 days.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Female greater grisons nurse their offspring until they are weaned at approximately 3.5 weeks of age. Small groups of grisons observed hunting and exploring together are usually assumed to be mothers with older offspring, indicating that offspring likely associate with their mothers for a certain amount of time post-weaning.

Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care ; post-independence association with parents

  • Cabrera, A., J. Yepes. 1960. Mamiferos Sud Americanos. Buenos Aires: Buenos Aires (Compania Argentina Edition).
  • Dalquest, W., J. Roberts. 1951. Behavior of Young Grisons in Captivity. American Midland Naturalist, 46/2: 359-366.
  • Eisenberg, J. 1989. Mammals of the Neotropics: The Northern Neotropics. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Kaufmann, J., A. Kaufmann. 1965. Observations of the Behavior of Tayras and Grison. Zeitschrift fuer Saugetierkunde, 30: 146-155.
  • Leopold, A. 1972. Wildlife of Mexico. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.
  • Sunquist, M., F. Sunquist, D. Daneke. 1989. Advances in Neotropical Mammology. Gainesville, Florida, United States of America: Sandhill Crane Press.
  • Yensen, E., T. Tarifa. 2003. Galictis cuja. Mammalian Species, 728: 1-8.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Galictis vittata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists Galictis vittata as a species of least concern for conservation, due to the absence of major threats and its wide area of distribution. Population trends are listed as stable.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix iii

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K.

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Least Concern as it has a wide distribution and there do not appear to be any major threats to the species.
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Population

Population
Galictis vittata has a low density throughout its range (Arita et al., 1990). Some subspecies are considered uncommon or rare (Timm et al. 1989). The densities estimated for the species were 1- 2.4 individuals/km2 (Eisenberg et al. 1979).

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
The species is tolerant to some disturbance, but hunting has shown negative effects (Bisbal, 1993). In some parts of their range the males are trapped for their body parts and they are also sold as pets (De la Rosa and Nocke, 2000).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
In Costa Rica, it is considered endangered (Timm et al. 1989) and is listed on CITES Appendix III (Fuller et al. 1987). In Belize it is protected by the Wildlife Protection Act, and in Nicaragua it is protected from hunting (Fuller et al. 1987).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Greater grisons are not valuable as game, but they may become an agricultural nuisance. In some instances they may prey on domestic chickens.

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If raised in captivity from a young age, greater grisons reportedly make affectionate pets. In some instances, they are also kept in captivity for the purpose of controlling rodent populations.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Greater grison

The greater grison (Galictis vittata), is a species of mustelid native to South and Central America.

Description[edit]

The greater grison is a slender animal with short legs, a long neck, and a short, bushy tail. They are similar in appearance to the closely related lesser grison, from which they can be most readily distinguished by their greater size, with a head-body length ranging from 45 to 60 centimetres (18 to 24 in). Adults weigh between 1.5 and 3.8 kilograms (3.3 and 8.4 lb) in the wild, but may become larger when reared in captivity.[2]

The back, flanks, top of the head, and the tail, are grizzled grey in color, while the rest of the body is much darker, and usually solid black. A narrow whitish stripe separates the darker and lighter fur on the head and shoulder, but not further back, where the two colors may, in some individuals, blur into one another. The tail is 14 to 20 centimetres (5.5 to 7.9 in) long, and covered with bushy hair similar in color to that on the animal's back. The head is flattened and broad, with short, rounded ears, and dark brown to black eyes. The legs are muscular, with five webbed toes, each ending in a sharp, curved claw.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Greater grisons are native to Central and South America, ranging from southern Mexico in the north, to central Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia in the south. They inhabit a wide range of forest and cerrado habitats, and are usually seen near rivers and streams. They are typically found at elevations below 500 metres (1,600 ft), but they may be found as high as 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) in some parts of the Bolivian Andes.[2] In some regions, they may also be found in cultivated areas, such as plantations and rice paddies.[1] Four living, and one fossil subspecies are recognised:[3]

Behaviour[edit]

Greater grisons are primarily terrestrial, although they can climb trees and swim well. They are mostly diurnal, and only occasionally active at night.[4] They live alone or in pairs, with home ranges of at least 4.2 square kilometres (1.6 sq mi), and a very low population density, such that they are rarely encountered in the wild. They spend the night sleeping in cavities in hollow logs or beneath tree roots, or else in the abandoned burrows of other animals.[4]

Little is known of their diet, although it consists largely of small vertebrates, such as fish, amphibians, birds, and other mammals.[5] While hunting, they move in a zigzag pattern, making short bounds and occasionally stopping to look around with their heads raised and sniff the air. When moving more cautiously, they press their bodies close to the ground in a movement that has been described as 'snake-like'. They have been reported to respond to threats with a series of grunts that rise in intensity and frequency until they become rapid barks, and finally a single loud scream with their teeth bared.[2]

Biology[edit]

Like many other mustelids, greater grisons possess anal scent glands that secrete a yellowish or greenish musk. Although not especially noxious in comparison with that of other species, this can be sprayed at attackers, as well as being used to mark the grison's territory.[2]

Litters of up to four young are born from March to September, after a gestation period of 39 days. Newborn young weigh less than 50 grams (1.8 oz), and are initially blind, although with a short coat of hair already bearing the adult pattern. Their eyes open after two weeks, and they begin to eat solid food at three weeks, reaching the adult size in just four months.[4] They have lived for at least ten years in captivity.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). Galictis vittata. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Yensen, E. & Tarifa, T. (2003). "Galictis vittata". Mammalian Species: Number 727: pp. 1–8. doi:10.1644/727. 
  3. ^ Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  4. ^ a b c Wilson, D.E. & Mittermeier, R.A., ed. (2009). Handbook of the Mammals of the World, Volume 1: Carnivora. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 636–637. ISBN 978-84-96553-49-1. 
  5. ^ Bisbal, F.J. (1986). "Food habits of some Neotropical carnivores in Venezuela (Mammalia, Carnivora)". Mammalia 50 (3): 329–340. doi:10.1515/mamm.1986.50.3.329. 
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