Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
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Galictis vittata

Greater Grison

Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae

Image of Galictis vittata
Galictis vittata (Greater Grison), Peru
Click to enlarge. (489 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Greater Grisons are often found near water, and are good swimmers, even playing underwater, but they are basically terrestrial. They are most active early in the morning and late in the afternoon, and den at night in burrows between rocks, in tree holes, and sometimes in abandoned armadillo burrows. They hunt alone or in small family groups, pursuing small mammals, lizards and other reptiles, and birds, including chickens. They are sometimes kept as pets to control rodents. If they are raised in captivity they can be tame and friendly.

Greater Grisons look like big weasels, with long, muscular bodies and short legs. When they run, they bound along with their backs arched, pausing to stretch their necks up to look around. To check out an unfamiliar object, a grison will inch forward on its belly. If alarmed, it can squirt an oily, musky liquid from its anal glands, which is not as pungent as a skunk's spray but serves the same purpose. They also scent-mark with musk from the anal glands, passing the musk to the middle of the tail and using the tail as a brush.

In Mexico, Greater Grisons are found only in nature preserves. Fortunately, their fur has no commercial value. Fossils of a closely-related ancestor have been found in several states, including Maryland, Florida, Nebraska, and Washington.

Range: Head and Body: 475-552 mm; Tail: 146-163 mm

Range: 1.5-3.2 kg


Schreber, J.C.D., 1776. Die Säugethiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen, 3(18):pl. 124[1776], text, 3(26):418, 447[1777].


Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Galictis vittata