IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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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

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