The greater grison's range stretches from S. Mexico to Brazil and Bolivia. These animals are found mainly in lowland areas, rarely ascending to more than 1,500 m (5,000 ft) above sea level. Within its large range, the greater grison lives in a variety of habitats, from dry savannahs and grasslands to more verdant areas, including rainforests. The grison makes its home in secluded spots, such as under tree roots or in rock crevices, and it sometimes takes over the abandoned burrows of armadillos.
Grisons have more robust bodies than weasels. The greater grison's most obvious feature is the white stripe across its face and around its ears. This stripe gives the animal's face a banded appearance. Greater grisons may live alone or in small groups. These agile predators dispatch their prey with a bite to the neck.
Like other small carnivores, the grison has a long, powerful body. While the bodyform limits the animal to slow running speeds, it does enable it to wriggle into tight spaces, such as the burrows of its prey.
The ears are small, so they do not get snagged in tight spots, and the claws are wide and very long for digging and extracting food. The grison is an agile animal, good at climbing and swimming. It feeds on frogs and worms as well as other ground-living creatures. The abandoned burrow of another animal or a rock or tree-root crevice serves it as a den. A litter of 2 to 4 young is produced in the burrow in October.
There are 3 species of grison, all of which live in Central and S. America. The local population uses grisons in the same way as ferrets, for flushing out chinchillas.
Distribution: From Mexico through Central and S. America to Brazil.
Habitat: Grasslands and rainforest, often near water.
Food: Small mammals including chinchillas, agoutis and mice; occasionally reptiles and birds.
Size: 51 cm (20 in); 2 kg (4.5 lb).
Maturity: 1 year.
Breeding: 2 - 4 young born between March and October.
Life span: 5 years.
Lesser grisons occur from southern Peru to northern Patagonia in Argentina. They are at home in a range of habitats, including the arid scrubland of Paraguay's Chaco region, as well as moister grasslands and forests. This species closely resembles the greater grison, having the same banded face. The lesser grison is found at altitudes up to 4,000 m (13,120 ft).
Size: 45 cm (18 in); 1 kg (2.2 lb).