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Monday Mustelid - Galictis cuja Edition

I know you all missed the mustelids! Never fear, they are back.

The Lesser Grison (Galictis cuja) can be found in most of South America, and have adapted to live in a wide variety of habitats. They can make their home in meadows, forests, scrub land, grasslands, arid land and areas developed for agriculture. They can live close to large bodies of water or far from them. The only places they are not typically found are at elevations over 13,000 feet (4,000 meters).


Lesser Grisons have black fur on their bellies, legs and lower neck and face, and grizzled gray fur on their back, ears and tail. They are smaller than their close relatives, the Greater Grisons, growing to only 20 inches (52 cm) in body length and weighing 5 pounds (2.4 kg). Females tend to be smaller, lighter and more slender than males. Their feet are webbed and each have five toes, with curved, sharp claws.

The diet of the Lesser Grison consists of small mammals, eggs, birds, insects and fruit. They love to eat rabbits, which are an introduced species, when they can get them. Lesser Grisons can be pets if they are raised by humans from infancy, and have been used in the past to hunt chinchillas. They are small enough to fit easily down chinchilla burrows, but now that those animals have become so rare, this is not as common. Lesser Grisons have anal scent glands that give them a defense against predators and a means of communicating with other grisons.


Lesser Grisons can form monogamous mating pairs, although the typical mating season of grisons in the wild is not specifically known. After a 40-day gestation period, females will give birth to a litter of two to four young.


There are currently four recognized subspecies:

  • Galictis cuja cuja (western Argentina, southwestern Bolivia, Chile)
  • Galictis cuja furax (Uruguay, Paraguay, northeastern Argentina, southern Brazil)
  • Galictis cuja huronax (eastern Argentina, central Bolivia)
  • Galictis cuja luteola (western Bolivia, southern Peru)

Lesser Grisons are fairly social, for mustelids, and sometimes hunt in small family groups. They are generally beneficial to humans, as they keep down populations of rabbits and rodents, although they are sometimes killed if they are believed to be a threat to livestock.


Source for all images used in this post.

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