A grison /ˈɡrɪzən/, also known as a South American wolverine,[1] is any mustelid in the genus Galictis. Native to Central and South America, the genus contains two extant species: the greater grison (Galictis vittata), which is found widely in South America, through Central America to southern Mexico; and the lesser grison (Galictis cuja), which is restricted to the southern half of South America.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Subfamily: Ictonychinae
Genus: Galictis
Bell, 1826

Galictis cuja
Galictis vittata

Galictis range
Galictis range


The generic name Galictis joins two Greek words: galē (γαλῆ, "weasel") and iktis (ἴκτις, marten/weasel).[2] Compare the word Galidictis (a mongoose genus).

The common name grison is from a French word for "gray", a variant of gris, also meaning "gray".[3]

Locally, in Spanish, it is referred to as a huroncito (literally "little ferret") or grisón. In Portuguese, it is a furão.


Grisons measure up to 60 cm (24 in) in length,[4] and weigh between 1 and 3 kg (2.2 and 6.6 lb). The lesser grison is slightly smaller than the greater grison. Grisons generally resemble a skunk, but with a smaller tail, shorter legs, wider neck, and more robust body. The pelage along the back is a frosted gray with black legs, throat, face, and belly. A sharp white stripe extends from the forehead to the back of the neck.


They are found in a wide range of habitats from semi-open shrub and woodland to low-elevation forests. They are generally terrestrial, burrowing and nesting in holes in fallen trees or rock crevices, often living underground. They are omnivorous, consuming fruit and small animals (including mammals). Little is known about grison behavior for multiple reasons, including that their necks are so wide compared to their heads, an unusual difficulty that has made radio tracking problematic.


Extant species

Image Scientific name Common name Distribution
Galictis Galictis cuja Lesser grison Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay
Greater grison Galictis vittata Greater grison southern Mexico in the north, to central Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia in the south.


Grisons first appeared in South America during the early Pleistocene about 2.5 million years ago. They may be descended from the fossil genera Trigonictis and Sminthosinus, which lived in North America during the mid to late Pliocene.[5] There are at least three known fossil species, all of which were found in Argentina:[4]

  • Galictis hennigi
  • Galictis sanandresensis
  • Galictis sorgentinii


  1. ^ ZipcodeZoo - Online Encyclopedia About Plants & Animals
  2. ^ "Galictis". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. "New Latin, from Greek galē weasel + iktis yellow-breasted marten".
    Lewis and Short defines ictis (ἴκτις) simply as "a kind of weasel".[1] Brill’s New Pauly likewise also notes that "ἴκτις/íktis may be a weasel"[2]
  3. ^ "Grison". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. "French, from grison gray, from Middle French, from gris"
  4. ^ a b Yensen, E.; Tarifa, T. (2003). "Galictis vittata". Mammalian Species: Number 727: pp. 1–8. doi:10.1644/727.
  5. ^ Yensen, E.; Tarifa, T. (2003). "Galictis cuja". Mammalian Species: Number 728: pp. 1–8. doi:10.1644/728.
  • Nowak, Ronald M. (2005). Walker's Carnivores of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press ISBN 0-8018-8032-7

Bdeogale is a genus of three species of mongoose native to the rainforests of central and western Africa. They are primarily terrestrial and insectivorous.

Flat-headed kusimanse

The flat-headed kusimanse (Crossarchus platycephalus) is a dwarf mongoose endemic to Benin, Cameroon and Nigeria. This species was once regarded as a subspecies of the common kusimanse (Crossarchus obscurus).

Greater grison

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


The Hemigalinae are a subfamily of the viverrids denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864. This subfamily comprises the four monospecific genera:






Ictonychinae is a subfamily of the mammal family Mustelidae found mainly in the Neotropics (3 species) and Africa (3 species), with one Eurasian member. It includes the grisons, Patagonian weasel, striped polecats, African striped weasel and marbled polecat, respectively. These genera were formerly included within a paraphyletic definition of the mustelid subfamily Mustelinae.

Most members have a mask-like bar or larger dark marking across their face; the African representatives of the group are striped. A defense mechanism common to the group is use of a chemical spray similar to (but not necessarily as strong as) that of skunks.

Interdigital webbing

Interdigital webbing is the presence of membranes of skin between the digits. Normally in mammals, webbing is present in the embryo but resorbed later in development, but in various mammal species it occasionally persists in adulthood. In humans, it can be found in those suffering from LEOPARD syndrome and from Aarskog-Scott syndrome.Webbing between the digits of the hindfoot is also present in several mammals that spend part of their time in the water. Webbing accommodates movement in the water.Interdigital webbing is not to be confused with syndactyly, which is a fusing of digits and occurs rarely in humans. Syndactyly specifically affecting feet occurs in birds (such as ducks), amphibians (such as frogs), and mammals (such as the kangaroo).

Lesser grison

The lesser grison (Galictis cuja) is a species of mustelid from South America.


Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Mephitis (genus)

The genus Mephitis is one of several genera of skunks, which has two species and a North American distribution.


The Mustelidae (; from Latin mustela, weasel) are a family of carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, mink, and wolverines, among others. Mustelids are diverse and the largest family in the order Carnivora, suborder Caniformia. Mustelidae comprises about 56-60 species across eight subfamilies.


Paradoxurus is a genus within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. As of 2005, this genus was defined as comprising three species native to Southeast Asia:

the Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)

the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)

the brown palm civet (P. jerdoni)In 2009, it was proposed to also include the golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus), the Sri Lankan brown palm civet (P. montanus) and the golden dry-zone palm civet (P. stenocephalus), which are endemic to Sri Lanka.


Polecat is a common name for mammals in the order Carnivora and subfamilies Galictinae and Mustelinae. Polecats do not form a single taxonomic rank (i.e., clade); the name is applied to several species with broad similarities (including having a dark mask-like marking across the face) to European polecats, the only species native to the British Isles.

In the United States, the term polecat is sometimes applied to the black-footed ferret, a native member of the Mustelinae, and (loosely) to skunks, which are only distantly related.

Despite the name, polecats, being various caniform mustelids, are more closely related to dogs than cats, which is why they belong to the suborder Caniformia.

In Canada, the term polecat is sometimes applied to electric utility linemen.


Pusa is a genus of the earless seals, within the family Phocidae. The three species of this genus were split from the genus Phoca, and some sources still give Phoca as an acceptable synonym for Pusa.

The three species in this genus are found in Arctic and subarctic regions, as well as around the Caspian Sea. This includes these countries and regions: Russia, Scandinavia, Britain, Greenland, Canada, the United States, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Japan. Due to changing local environmental conditions, the ringed seals found in the Canadian region has varied patterns of growth. The northern Canadian ringed seals grow slowly to a larger size, while the southern seals grow quickly to a smaller size.

Only the Caspian seal is endangered.

Sea mink

The sea mink (Neovison macrodon) is a recently extinct species of mink that lived on the eastern coast of North America in the family Mustelidae, the largest family in the order Carnivora. It was most closely related to the American mink (Neovison vison), with debate about whether or not the sea mink should be considered a subspecies of the American mink (making it Neovison vison macrodon) or a species of its own. The main justification for a separate species designation is the size difference between the two minks, but other distinctions have been made, such as its redder fur. The only known remains are fragments unearthed in Native American shell middens. Its actual size is speculative, based largely on tooth-remains.

The sea mink was first described in 1903, after its extinction; information regarding its external appearance and habits stem from speculation and from accounts made by fur traders and Native Americans. It may have exhibited behavior similar to the American mink, in that it probably maintained home ranges, was polygynandrous, and had a similar diet, though more seaward-oriented. It was probably found on the New England coast and the Maritime Provinces, though its range may have stretched further south during the last glacial period. Conversely, its range may have been restricted solely to the New England coast, specifically the Gulf of Maine, or just to nearby islands. The largest of the minks, the sea mink was more desirable to fur traders and became extinct in the late 19th or early 20th century.


Speothos is a genus of canid found in Central and South America. The genus includes the living bush dog, Speothos venaticus, and an extinct Pleistocene species, Speothos pacivorus. Unusually, the fossil species was identified and named before the extant species was discovered, with the result that the type species of Speothos is S. pacivorus.

Trigonictis macrodon

Trigonictis macrodon is an extinct genera and species of mammal related to a grison (genus Galictis) of North America living during the Pliocene through Pleistocene from ~4.1–1.6 Ma. (AEO). existing for approximately 2.5 million years.


Viverra is a mammalian genus that was first nominated and described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 as comprising several species including the large Indian civet (V. zibetha). The genus was subordinated to the viverrid family by John Edward Gray in 1821.

Extant Carnivora species

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